When we do a typical show review here at Go 95.3 and GoRadioMN.com, we usually craft a list of four-to-six takeaways. On the Run II is not a typical show. Beyoncé and JAY-Z took me away.
I’ve been Cartered.
First of all, as performers, both Beyoncé and Jigga are incredible on their own. Jay comes from that class of ’86 New York hip-hop traditionalism that perfected how to rock a live crowd. Queen Bey is a well-rehearsed master of singing, dancing, emoting and everything one could want from someone holding their attention.
Together, they are a juggernaut.
On The Run II may read on paper like the type of touring entity that would be Jay doing a live set, followed by Bey doing a live set and then together they do a bunch of Carters material. This is not the case.
On the Run II is a masterfully curated blend of amazing new live renditions of song we know and love, melded with not just the spectacle of innovative on-stage technology and awe-inspiring pyrotechnics, but jaw-dropping dancing, projections, musicianship – all combined to form a unique museum in motion of the fine arts in the most accessible presentation possible.
If we’re comparing OTR II to other hip-hop stadium shows, it breaks down like this: the something-for-everyone variety of Drake, the inspirational spiritual transcendence of Chance the Rapper, the monumental aura of Kanye and the cross-medium experience of Kendrick Lamar all combined into one wholly unique brand new entity.
The show began with the massive three-part LED screens showing an artistic video referring to the couple as “The Gangster and The Queen” shortly followed by “The Love Story.” This, followed by Jay and Bey descending hand-in-hand down an elevator-like platform to the center of the stage and they burst into a new arrangement of Jay’s 2013 track “Holy Grail,” set the tone for the night.
This was a couple showing off how together, like all great couples, they make each other better. Case in point, personally speaking I’ve never cared much for the aforementioned “Holy Grail,” or mid-2000s Jay material like “Show Me What You Got” and “Forever Young.” Here, however, these songs were each given an entirely new life with absolute virtuoso live musicians at the helm, and the genuine passions and talents of Beyoncé seamlessly merging within the soundscape to make these moments downright stellar.
Despite being in a massive football stadium, there was enough at play to make this stop on the tour feel intimate and special. Hearing Jay and Bey say “Minneapolis” with such zeal felt like more than just by-the-numbers checklist pandering, but much more so a truly shared experience. Even the subtle touches like Beyoncé sneaking in a few lines of Prince‘s “If I Was Your Girlfriend” into “’03 Bonnie and Clyde” was such a welcome secret nod to Prince fans in attendance.
Speaking of “Bonnie and Clyde,” that song turns 16 this year. “Crazy in Love” turns 15. The Carters have been a power couple in music for a ridiculously long time – something largely unprecedented in the world of hip-hop. Their career-spanning set was a reminder of just how much these two – together or in part – really soundtracked our lives and the experience of being an American music listener as a whole for the past two decades.
But this wasn’t comparable to, say, a teaser preview of their inevitable Vegas residency decades down the line. This was a full experience. Every song, motion, movement, pyrotechnic, etc. was painstaking chosen and executed to perfection. While the conclusion of the night had some concert-goers audibly upset that Beyoncé and Jay didn’t do “Every” song (“Single Ladies” and “Empire State of Mind” being perhaps the two biggest omissions), frankly these missing tracks would have at no point fit in the setlist.
This was a very deliberate, very orchestrated installation that happened to feel like transcendent party.
No encores, just credits.
If you had the tremendous fortune to be in USBank Stadium for On The Run II, you witnessed an absolutely perfect show.