Jay-Z at the Pepsi Center, 3/22/10
JAY-Z @ PEPSI CENTER | 3/22/10
Jay-Z is one of the few performers that truly is larger than life. Dude has an undeniably commanding presence on stage. From the opening cut, "Run This Town," until the fittingly titled "Encore," which he closed out the show with nearly two hours later, he had damn near the entire crowd at the Pepsi Center on its feet, arms raised, bouncing with utter abandon, parroting his words back to him. Of all the shows we've been to over the years, there's been scant few performers we've seen capable of inspiring such unbridled enthusiasm, much less maintaining such fevered momentum for the entire show. Springsteen comes to mind.
See also: Photos: Jay-Z at Pepsi Center, 3/22/10
The fact that Jay-Z held our attention is no small feat. On paper at least, the mere notion of watching a rapper -- any rapper -- perform for two straight hours seems as tedious and wearisome as getting your taxes done. While there were some dips -- after a half dozen or so songs from Young Jeezy around midset (which the crowd didn't seem to mind at all, BTW), the air felt like it had been let out of the tires a bit -- for the most part, Jigga was completely riveting for the bulk of his set.
Aaron Thackeray Check out full slideshow from last night's show.
Funny thing is, it's not so much his physical stage presence alone that's magnetic -- for the most part, he stalked either side of the stage displaying his trademark swagger -- as it is when combined the power and conviction of his delivery. He has a way of making every song feel like an anthem. He could probably convince you to invest in a time share with little difficulty. And more impressive, he raps with such a cool, casual confidence, that it all seems completely effortless. In fact, if it wasn't for the beads of perspiration glistening on his forehead, you'd swear the dude wasn't even breaking a sweat.
And, of course, you can't overlook the strength of his songs, all of which seem to be imbued with a vague familiarity. The non-radio hits sound like hits. Even the most casual listeners can't help nodding their heads. Towards the end of set he reached back deep in his catalog and offered full disclosure that while he loves those that came on board during the latter years and they're welcome to stay, he'd understand if they left now and got a jump on traffic. This portion of the set, he explained, was dedicated to the diehards, those who own a copy of Reasonable Doubt, the ones who were there from the beginning. No one got up to leave.
Keep reading for more on the show