Review—Beyonce and Jay-Z at BC Place Stadium, Vancouver, Oct. 2 2018
– review by Taisuke Tanimura
Jay-Z and Beyoncé first went on tour together in 2014. One of the world’s greatest rappers married to one of the world’s greatest singers on tour together: it should have been a victory lap for two of the most powerful voices in popular culture. Instead, rumours of Jay-Z’s infidelity, and the infamous elevator incident threw the whole thing for a spin.
As their relationship spilled out into the public eye, Beyonce embraced the exposure. She released 2016’s Lemonade, a deeply personal album about heartbreak and betrayal. Jay-Z responded in kind with 4:44, laying out his regrets in stark detail. It was a savvy move that let them set the narrative, and they have continued to share their journey since. First with this year’s collaborative album Everything Is Love, and now their On The Run II tour, a sequel to their 2014 tour. The tour began in June and rolled into BC Place on Oct. 2 for the second last show.
It would be easy to dismiss the whole thing as a public therapy session if the show wasn’t so damn entertaining. When Beyonce and Jay-Z took the stage holding hands, clad in white, to perform “Holy Grail” (from Jay-Z’s 2013 album Magna Carta Holy Grail), it was impossible not to get swept up in the spectacle of it all. For two-and-a-half hours, they took turns performing a dizzying array of their hits, with plenty of duets sprinkled between.
Their set loosely traced the arc of their relationship. Their first collaboration, “‘03 Bonnie And Clyde,” was one of the set’s first songs. More personal tracks like “4:44,” “Resentment,” and “Family Feud” followed, detailing their rift. Two of the last songs (“Young Forever” and “Perfect”) were duets that saw them gazing deep into each others’ eyes. Even though you knew they had done this on every stop of their tour, it still felt like witnessing a startlingly candid and tender moment between them.
Often performing alone on stage, Jay-Z had the harder job of the two. Wisely, he stuck to classics like “Big Pimpin’,” “99 Problems,” and “Clique.” It’s easy to think of Jay-Z as someone in a supporting role, given Beyonce’s constant media exposure. But he proved he still has charisma in spades. He also had a different outfit for just about every song. Not that it’s a competition, but his tour wardrobe is definitely bigger than his wife’s.
Which isn’t to say Beyonce had it easy. Her live shows are already the stuff of legend, especially following her historic Coachella set earlier this year. She continued her winning streak on this tour, combining her fierce dance moves (there’s a lot of jiggling) with a marching band and a troupe of dancers. This lady can SING. When she performed “Resentment,” perched by herself on the edge of a long runway, her voice held the 41,000-strong crowd rapt.
The gigantic screen behind them served up home videos of the couple and their children, as well as a short film screened in pieces throughout the evening. In the film, Beyonce and Jay-Z frolic on a tropical beach before things take a darker turn, culminating in them standing dejectedly in front of a house on fire. Beyonce leaves, Jay-Z begs for forgiveness in a church, and eventually they reunite at the altar. The theme of redemption and love was woven through the entire performance.
The title of their latest album, Everything Is Love, was really the thesis statement for the evening. Seeing both of them be so open and honest about their rollercoaster relationship and to come out of a dark place even stronger is inspiring. Kudos to them for not only sharing, but making such an amazing show out of it.