There’s a lot to the 2-plus hour “On the Run” tour rolling through stadiums this summer. We’re talking a pair of stages, two superstars, pyrotechnics, a faux love story playing out via interstitial videos, and a true love story playing out on stage – and all of that is set to a soundtrack of more than 40 tracks.
In short: there was too much going on.
The tour-themed videos in particular took away from any type of momentum the sold-out concert gained. Focusing on a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde (played by the couple of the evening), the black-and-white clips followed no real story line, making them incredibly hard to follow.
The staccato rhythm of the concert caused by the videos (a la “RUN” above) went a little something like this:
1. Jay or Bey would play a couple massive hits, like “Jigga My N****” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.”
2. Then, he/she/they would disappear under or behind the stage, presumably to change.
3. While the concert-goers patiently waited, they were offered a video from Jay and Bey’s fictional life to hold them over.
That’s all well and good, we like to be entertained, but let’s be real here. Folks who bought tickets for the show were there for three things: 1. Beyonce 2. Jay Z and 3. Their love story. They weren’t there to watch a chopped up movie.
The massive pauses caused by those videos took away from the overall flow of the concert and inevitably made it harder to focus on the actual performances themselves.
The few times that Beyonce and Jay Z actually shared the stage for more than a fleeting moment, there was magic. Thanks to those Jumbotrons, the crowd was offered glimpses of the pair sharing googly-eyed moments (which started in the opener “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”), but for the most part the mushy stuff was kept to a minimum.
It wasn’t until the final moments of the show, after Jay serenaded Bey with his verses from “Part II (On the Run)” as they walked to the secondary stage (which was about 30 yards from the main stage centered on the floor), that we got to see the couple truly in a romantic element.
Once the couple was on the platform, they sidled up next to each other in the sea of people and performed “Forever Young” spliced with “Halo,” as what looked like home movies played out on the mega screen (in between the two Jumbotrons) above the main stage.
Hov, in an all-white suit with a black beanie, asked the crowd to put up lights (cell phones, lighters) for the song and the audience obliged, with Beyonce standing close by in one of her infamous leotard-like body suits with a black-and-white American flag tied at her waist. Shortly thereafter scenes from the couple’s wedding, Beyonce’s pregnancy, and Blue Ivy’s youngest days highlighted the screen while the couple – and entire audience—looked on.
That was the stuff we were looking for.
Outside of the romantic stuff, Beyonce’s dance numbers were sexified perfection, and her body was enough to drive someone to work out four times a day. Any woman who can dance her incredible butt off (which we got to see courtesy of a cheek-baring leotard during a barre performance) while singing deserves a medal. I bow down to you, Queen Bey.
Personally, I would have traded some of the dancing for more singing, though. Beyonce’s tender, paired down performance of “Resentment,” which she belted out while seated on the secondary stage, had enough feeling behind it to make grown men cry. Particularly cheating ones.
As for her hubby, Jay Z had the stadium in a frenzy with a few of his tracks, including “Tom Ford,” which he did fairly early (seventh overall), and “99 Problems.” He toned it down with “Song Cry” which was part of a break-up themed segment of tracks featuring Beyonce’s rendition of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor,” and “On To the Next One” got the crowd on its feet.
For the most part, the set list was as expected (per a Just Jared post), except for a surprise pop-up few seconds of “Naughty Girl” and a verse from the Kanye West-less “N***** In Paris.”
Would I go see the “On the Run” tour again? Probably not. Will I buy Jay Z and Beyonce’s next albums? Probably. Would I watch their home movies again? Most definitely.Emily Wright can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MissEmilyWright.