Beyonce and Jay Z‘s blockbuster On The Run tour kicked off last night (June 25) in Miami before an estimated 76,000 screaming fans. Despite starting over an hour late due to near-apocalyptic traffic conditions, there were nothing but smiles in Sun Life stadium. The sense that history was about to be made was palpable and the opportunity to bear witness was compensation enough for a (not so) minor delay in the sticky Florida heat.
And, as expected, The Carters delivered two hours of impeccable entertainment that cemented their status as the first couple of popular music. Hov acted as a kind of de facto MC for the event, warming up the crowd with a slew of classic hits between his wife’s more elaborate set pieces. The recurring themes of love and family really pulled the show together. After all, it began with a glamorous projection that read “This Is Not Real Life” and ended with a montage of home movies featuring Blue Ivy with the caption “This Is Real Life”.
Not that On The Run was completely without flaws. For a stadium show, the staging is relatively unspectacular. Jay performs with little production behind him and the second stage in the middle of the venue is a complete misfire. Transitions to and from it were awkward and there weren’t enough screens to see what was happening. My biggest qualm with the show, however, was the setlist. Bey’s contribution to be specific. Too much of the brilliant (but all too recent) Mrs. Carter Show world tour was simply recycled. And that’s not good enough when premium tickets cost $500.
There were actual moans when the game-changing diva sat down to sing B’Day ballad “Resentment” for the umpteenth time (the same applied to “Why Don’t You Love Me?”) and the entire “Love On Top” segment was all too familiar. When you combine an occasionally stale setlist with the same dancers and similar costumes, you can’t help but feel a sense of deja vu. Which is actually ironic because the duo neglected to perform that fan favorite despite an outpouring of social media requests.
If anyone else pulled that trick they would be clocked by fans and media alike, but Beyonce’s performance skills are so next-level that your head is spinning too fast to be too annoyed. She is simply in a league of her own when it comes to the live arena. The 32-year-old is not only a dancing machine and vocal freak but she effortlessly connects with the crowd by touching and/or serenading them when she’s close enough and giving 150% commitment to every single pose when she’s not. Queen Bey has even raised wig-whipping to an art-form. Lace has never moved as fast or fabulously as it did last night!
It’s hard to single out highlights from a uniformly great show but for me, it was all about the new material. Hearing “Haunted” live was a borderline religious experience and Beyonce finally gave “Pretty Hurts” its due with a gut-wrenching rendition. You can’t help but think it could be a massive hit if she repeated the performance on a single TV show. The duets were also outstanding. Mrs. Carter’s take on Justin Timberlake‘s “Holy Grail” feature was impeccable and “Part 2 (On The Run)” was just as slinky and sexy as imagined. It was also great to hear a couple of golden oldies like “Upgrade U”, “99 Problems”, “Ring The Alarm” and “Hard Knock Life”.
By the time the show wound up with Bey singing “Halo” while a montage of previously unseen home movies raced across the screen, you couldn’t help but feel The Carters had let you into their notoriously private family life just a little. And that, in and of itself, makes On The Run a triumph.
Beyonce and Jay Z’s On The Run setlist:
1. O3 Bonnie & Clyde
2. Show Me What You Got
3. Upgrade U
4. Crazy In Love
5. Niggas In Paris
6. Tom Ford
7. Run The World (Girls)
10. Jigga That Nigga
11. Dirt Off Ya Shoulders
12. Big Pimpin’
13. Naughty Girl
14. Ring The Alarm
15. On To The Next One
18. Baby Boy
20. No Church In The Wild
21. Drunk In Love
22. Public Service Announcement
23. Why Don’t You Love Me?
24. Holy Grail
26. Beach Is Better
28. 99 Problems
29. If I Were A Boy
30. Ex-Factor (Lauryn Hill Cover)
31. Song Cry
32. You Don’t Know
34. Love On Top / I want You Back (Michael Jackson Tribute)
35. Izzo (H.O.V.A)
36. I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)
36. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
37. Hard Knock Life
38. Pretty Hurts
39. Part II (On The Run)
40. Forever Young
42. Lift Off (Credits)
Did you catch the show? Let us know in the comments below.
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