I was one of 45,000 Torontonians who paid an obscene amount of money to see the kick-off to the Legends of Summer tour. After almost half a year of eager anticipation, Jay Z and Justin Timberlake arrived to deliver an outstanding show.
Despite the heat, and the late start, I danced, sang and screamed to my heart’s content as the dynamic duo performed hit after hit. The set list was spectacular. I’m one of those concert purists who prefer not to know the line up before heading into the concert, as I love the genuine surprise of hearing an unexpected song that I love. These two did not disappoint.
Holy Grail (Jay-Z)
Give It To Me (Timbaland)
Rock Your Body (Timberlake)
Izzo (H.O.V.A.) (Jay-Z)
Excuse Me Miss (Jay-Z)
On To The Next One (Jay-Z)
Like I Love You (Timberlake)
My Love (Timberlake)
Big Pimpin (Jay-Z)
Tunnel Vision (Timberlake)
Somewhere in America
U Don’t Know
99 Problems / Walk This Way
Bonnie & Clyde
Heart of the City
Until the End of Time
Let the Groove Get In
Take Back the Night
Song Cry (Jay-Z)
Cry Me a River (Timberlake)
Tom Ford (Jay-Z)
What Goes Around… Comes Around (Timberlake) /Dirt Off Your Shoulder (Jay-Z)
New York New York / Empire State of Mind (Jay-Z)
Run This Town (Jay-Z)
Suit & Tie (Timberlake)
Young Forever (Jay-Z & Timberlake)
The Legends of Summer lineup strikes a great balance between new and old songs – melding different eras of careers and fan bases. The vibe was decidedly different than that of HOVA’s last stadium tour for Watch the Throne – where Kanye acted as a foil for Jay Z; challenging each other with an unbelievably entertaining back and forth challenge. On the Legends of Summer Tour, Jay Z and JT covered most of my favourites, and did it with style, and added a feeling of buddy-cop camaraderie on stage. The call and response with the audience was amazing – having Justin sing his impossible falsetto high notes, and the audience trying valiantly to match him. I still don’t have much of a voice left from the concert.
My only problem with the concert was the absolute division amongst those concert goers who were strictly JT or Jay Z fans. I get that not everyone goes to a concert to dance or sing along – but a mass exodus of people to the beer line once an artist hits the stage is downright rude. I was ashamed of the actions of these select individuals that let their disdain for either JT or Jay Z take away from the concert experience of others. Not cool man. Not cool. That being said, JT is a man of ballads, slow and sexy jams, where Jay Z is a man with a harder sound and cutting words. It seems an odd-pairing of two pop superstars from different genres – but in my opinion – it really worked.
The sold out show made a legend of JT and solidified Jay Z’s status as a living legend. They’re both electric on stage. Jay commands attention, and JT is incredibly charismatic on stage. The duo served up collaborative hits, starting with the newly released “Holy Grail” and continued into an even mix of Jay Z and JT hits including “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)”, “Rock Your Body”, “Jigga What”, “Public Service Announcement”, “Izzo (H.O.V.A)”, “Excuse Me Miss”, “Senorita”, and “On to the Next One”.
While I’ve had my issues with the albums Magna Carta… Holy Grail (http://wp.me/s3pq8p-373) and the 20/20 Experience, what may not work in a car stereo, really works in a stadium. Some of the crowd couldn’t keep up with the newer tracks – understandable, given the short time since their release.
Breaking off into individual sets, JT crooned and ladies melted to sounds from the 20/20 Experience, FutureSexLoveSounds and Justified including “My Love”, “Tunnel Vision”, “Pusher Love Girl”, “Let the Groove Get In”, “Mirrors”, “Cry Me a River”, and a phenomenal performance of “What Goes Around… Comes Around”. Jay Z matched those incredible performances with his own arsenal of 12 studio albums, giving commanding performances of “Tom Ford”, “Heart of the City”, “ “Clique”, “Run This Town”, “Big Pimpin’”, and a house dropping performance of “99 Problems”.
The collaborative performances earned the biggest cheers and screams from the audience. Reminiscent of Watch the Throne, Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind” was preluded by a cheeky throwback to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”. Who needs Alicia Keys when you have JT belting out the chorus to a stadium staple? Encore performances included “Encore”, “Sexyback” and after a brief wardrobe change, “Suit & Tie”. With each song, we had either Jay Z or JT supporting with hype-man enthusiasm. It was great to see.
The Toronto set ended with “Forever Young”, which was dedicated to Travyon Martin. The Rogers Centre lit up with a vigil of cell phone screens – poignant and beautiful.
The show looked regal and deserving of the Legends of Summer moniker – with multiple framed screens, a dominating red stage, and 12-piece band (The Tennessee Kids). While it lacked the intensity of Watch the Throne, it’s a stadium tour that plays on the strengths of both of its stars.
In an extreme-heat warning for the City, we decided to show up in full suit and tie regalia – a testament of our excitement and devotion. I was among the many fans that were there to see both of these phenomenal artists at work. I am a huge fan of both JT and Jay Z. To borrow the words of my pal Jay Z – from record sales to sold out concerts, they came, they saw, they conquered. I was justified beyond a reasonable doubt.
This concert was the legend of my summer. Go See It.