Highlights from Beyoncé and Jay-Z ‘On the Run’
As is consistent with past shows, the “On the Run II” concert started on time, promptly at 7:30 p.m. in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The opening act was the singing sister duo Chloe x Halle, who Beyoncé discovered in 2013 when they performed a cover of her song “Pretty Hurts” on YouTube. The Bailey sisters Chloe, 19, and Halle, 18, are signed to her label, Parkwood Entertainment. More seasoned and sultry, the girls took command of the stage and showed off their musical prowess by playing the guitar and piano while singing tunes from their album, The Kids Are Alright.
Following them were DJ Khaled and his promised host of “surprises,” who included Atlanta’s own Monica, Lil Yachty, Ludacris, and Jermaine Dupree. The most interesting spectacle during that segment was Khaled himself, who hopped on the turntables and even showed the crowd his own dance moves. Although most of his moves were restricted to smooth foot work, the crowd seemed to love, encourage it.
At last, nearly an hour and a half later, it was time for the main attraction. Wearing matching all-white outfits, Bey began to belt lyrics from Jay’s “Holy Grail”: “Cause baby. It’s amazing I’m in this maze with you. I just can’t crack your code. One day you screaming you love me loud. The next day you’re so cold. One day you’re here, one day you’re there, one day you care. You’re so unfair…”
Once Jay, shouted, “You ready?” the sold out crowd responded by erupting in cheers and shouts. From that point on, the audience was treated to a string of their hits that included elaborate wardrobe changes, an army of dancers and live musicians. The performances were also enhanced with a moving stage that hovered over the audience, pyrotechnics, and two runways that parted the audience on the ground level. At times, the show felt like something off Broadway, and at others, it felt as if it was a movie.
Aside from the music itself, perhaps the most endearing, as well as entertaining, part of the show was the film footage of the Carter’s private family moments, including the twins who have not been seen publicly as much as their sister, Blue, had since birth.
Keeping with what seemed to be personal sentiments expressed through music, when Bey performed the ballad “Resentment” from her B’Day album, the crowd was almost hushed, waiting for their cue to express solidarity. Covered from neck to toe in a flowing, ruffled orange gown, Beyoncé sat on the catwalk and sang, “I gotta look at her in her eyes and see she’s had half of me / How could you lie / She ain’t even half of me / That bi**h will never be.” When she sang the word bi**h, her vocal emphasis and face expressed the indignation at the very thought of another woman, and the audience sang along, complementing her accentuation.
This show was clearly not about past relationship upheaval, however. It was a celebration of the couple’s togetherness shown in song choices, performances, and words, such as “THIS IS REAL LOVE,” which, at one point, was posted in the center of the backdrop.
The show’s theme not only included love, but women’s lives in general, namely female empowerment. While waiting for the performance of “Formation,” a message to women scrolled across the screen:
“We teach girls to shrink themselves to make themselves smaller
We say to girls you can have ambition, but not too much
You should aim to be successful, but not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man
We raise girls to see each other as competitors,
Not for jobs or accomplishments, but for the attention of men”
Most appropriately, “Apesh*t” was the last song of the night, not just because it features the couple on the latest album, Everything is Love, but because the crowd literally went apesh*t when an overzealous fan rushed the stage. A man in a white t-shirt, later identified as Anthony Charles Thomas Maxwell, jumped on stage and made a beeline toward the couple as they were leaving. The dancers responded first, seen physically restraining the man, before the security sprung into action.
— Ken Kemp (@kenkemp22) August 26, 2018
Jay and Bey performed for two-and-a-half hours with the show ending at 11:30 p.m. With fingers intertwined, they came to the stage, and hand-in-hand is how they left. The Carters showed fans that everything is love for now, and whatever is next in their autobiographical relationship saga, we are here for it.