Over the Summer during a weekend in London, I went to see Jay-Z & Beyoncé’s On The Run II tour. I think of all the concerts I’ve been to, this was probably the most spontaneous. I was in London for a weekend in June to see Hamilton (I’ll do a post on it, it was amazing) after the showing we originally booked for last December got postponed. About 5 days before we flew out we saw that Jay-Z & Beyoncé were bringing their OTRII tour to London the day before we were to see Hamilton so we decided that we HAD to be there for it (especially because they skipped Ireland on the tour for some reason). Let my start by saying that tickets were the biggest ball-ache in the world to get. It was very worth it tho.
The show was on in London’s Olympic Stadium so it was a big one (but not Wembley big, Ed Sheeran was occupying there that night). While it was a bit of a treck for us to get to the stadium because we decided to head over during Friday rush-hour, London’s public transport is immaculate so it wasn’t as much of a ball-ache as it should have been.
We did run into one problem on arrival to the stadium, it’s built on an island so the queues and entrances were marked by bridges. We stood in the wrong queue 3 times before getting it right. After going through the very laid back security and talking ourselves out of £15 alcohol slushies, we took our places on the pitch.
We were at the very back of the stadium because tickets closer to the stage were much more expensive than the rest. We didn’t mind though because of the way it was all laid out, everyone could see perfectly. A mammoth screen stretched above the stage reading ‘ON THE RUN II’ and the runways jutting out came about halfway up the pitch.
There was no support act which is disappointing enough and made the wait for Jay-Z & Beyoncé that much longer. After jamming out to Spotify’s top rap tracks, the screen lit up. It was time. I can confidently say that I’ve never heard a crowd scream louder than the crowd in London when the screen separated and Jay-Z & Beyoncé appeared on an elevator, descending to the stage. It was time for OTRII. It was glorious.
They kicked the show off with Jay-Z’s ‘Holy Grail’ with Beyoncé covering Justin Timberlake’s bits (bits of the song that is, badum tss…). After that, it was literally hit after hit after hit after hit. Some together, some with just Jay, some with just Bey. It was a perfect mix.
I refer to this as a concert but it could very well be described as a movie. Every now and then, the couple would leave the stage and a movie would play on the screen. There was an obvious theme here. Heartbreak, Love, and Family. It’s no secret that they’ve had their troubles in recent years as their marriage hit a rocky stage (see Lemonade, 4:44).
The set list reflected the theme of the show. Obviously, they started with some bangers to get the crowd going before we got to see them perform separately. Beyoncé performed her Lemonade songs about heartbreak while Jay did a lot of his 4:44 songs about redemption (he also did a very emotional rendition of ‘Song Cry’). They reunited on Jay-z’s ‘Family Feud’ which saw them elevated above the crowd on the stage and rolling down the runway for literally everyone to see (except the people with the expensive tickets who were under the floating stage. Suckers). From there it was all love and good vibes.
Beyoncé was her usual strong independent feminist self and I loved every second of it. I don’t think we’re ever going to get a more powerful performer in our lifetime. At one point during the show, she stopped mid-song to tell all the guys in the house to suck her balls. I had no issue with this.
I really have to give props to whoever designed the stage for this and just the production team in general. It was flawless. The giant screen split down the middle and rolled, this revealed the giant brass band behind in a grid formation elevated above the main stage.
I also need to shout the band out. I’m a big fan of Hip-Hop music with a live band but this was something else. A full brass band as well as the usually guitar and drums. I literally had goosebumps throughout the show when they kicked in. They also had a weird contortionist dancer which was cool. Beyoncé’s dancers were something else entirely. These guys deserve all the praise in the world and more!
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I don’t think I can pick just one big moment from the show as the whole thing felt HUGE. ‘Crazy in Love’ was incredible, especially with the band. ‘Formation’ gave me chills. ‘N***as in Paris’ just had everyone turning the fuck up. I can’t point a bad moment of the whole show.
The show was closed off with ‘Forever Young’ into Beyoncé singing Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’ while home-videos played in the background. They also showed some clips of them when they renewed their wedding vows. It was a truly beautiful moment. To reiterate the idea of it being more of a movie than a concert, after Beyoncé finished singing, literal credits started to roll as they said their goodbyes to the crowd.
Unfortunately, we weren’t at the show where they dropped an album out of nowhere. We went the night before! That didn’t take anything away from the experience though. OTRII was one of the single best shows I’ve ever seen. I think the only show so far that I’ve seen that tops it is Queen.
I could literally talk about this show all day, breaking down every song and every dance move and try to explain how it all made me feel. I’ll leave you with this. The best way to describe this experience is that it was one big vibe. If you ever get the chance to see these two perform together, you have to go. I really hope that they actually do make a movie out of this show so I can relive it forever.
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Until Next Time,