It is extremely rare for two, once in a lifetime music icons to join together and compile all of their greatest hits from their generation defining discographies into a widely successful stadium tour. It is even more uncommon that these two artists just happen to be married. With their first co-headlining tour since 2014, Beyoncé and Jay-Z joined forces once again as music’s most powerful couple with On The Run II: a celebration of music, life and love.
Coming off of arguably two of their most personal and socially conscious solo projects, Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Jay-Z’s 4:44, it only made sense for the couple to release the highly anticipated joint album, Everything Is Love, in June. With their solo projects revealing more vulnerable sides to them, the collaborative project ends that narrative with the message of love always prevailing through any kind of struggle. In true Beyoncé fashion, the stunning visuals capturing their artistic visions mixed with the music behind it all took the audience on a journey through their love story.
Reminiscent of The Carters’ first stadium tour together, On The Run, the words “THIS IS REAL LIFE” were plastered across the screen in bold, white letters. All around Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on September 29 were thousands of devoted fans eagerly ready to take in a show this jam-packed with all kinds of electric energy from the band, the dancers and the Carters themselves. The couple seemed to be completely focused and unfazed by the intense reactions of the crowd as they lowered down from an elevator and began performing “Holy Grail,” which became a powerful opener some would say lyrically explains their love-hate relationship with fame.
Although the couple has had massive success with their own individual projects, no one can deny the massive hits they have created together. From the iconic Prince sample of “‘03 Bonnie & Clyde” that represents the start of their relationship, to the infectious club hit that is “Drunk In Love,” their on-stage chemistry is captivating and completely genuine. The audience could tell the smiles on their faces and their support for each other was more evident on this tour than any other performances they’ve done together.
The show then went back and forth to their own solo hits. Beyoncé fiercely performed her most iconic women empowerment anthems such as “***Flawless,” “Formation” and “Run the World (Girls).” With her female dancers right behind her, she executed her message of equality that radiated confidence and hope to everyone in the crowd. Jay-Z effortlessly hyped up the crowd with classics that spanned from “Big Pimpin” to “99 Problems,” which had the audience chanting out the lyrics without hesitation.
In the midst of all of the up-tempo songs, the intertwining of the more emotional and vulnerable songs was done in such a way that gave us both sides of their own stories.The pure aggressiveness and the mind-boggling rock vocals represent her first reaction of being hurt in a relationship in “Don’t Hurt Yourself” and the somber realization her significant other is not reciprocating her feelings in “I Care” seem to be an odd match, but it ties it all together with Jay-Z admitting all of his mistakes in “4:44.”
While Beyoncé is giving the audience her entire soul with her vocal gymnastics during “I Care,” Jay-Z incorporates this own apology into the song as he raps, “Look, I apologize, often womanize/Took for my child to be born, see through a woman’s eyes/Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles/Took me too long for this song, I don’t deserve you.”
The ups and downs of relationships were an evident theme throughout the show. The vulnerability in the lyrical content of The Carters’ most recent projects humanizes them more and makes certain aspects of their relationship somewhat relatable to the general public. Behind all of the fame, Beyoncé and Jay-Z are humans like the rest of us and they deal with a lot of the same struggles we do.
As revealing as their art has become over the past few years, Beyoncé and Jay-Z are still extremely private, which is very understandable because the music should speak for itself. However, fans got to see just a little glimpse of their family life during the mashup of “Young Forever” and “Perfect.” The beautiful visuals of their children and the love they share together tied into the “THIS IS REAL LIFE” theme all together. As fans lit their phones up all across the stadium, the moment truly captured their message of love and what life really is all about.
The perfectly calculated intermixing of the setlist along with the insane production value made the show completely next-level in terms of how concerts should be put on. More importantly, the beautiful celebration of the black community and women all across the world was done with such grace and uplifted so many in the audience. Anyone who has left a Beyoncé and Jay-Z concert knows that feeling you get when you leave a show. It is that feeling of inspiration and magic that makes you realize how much music can unite us all together.