Beyonce & Jay-Z Minute Maid Park July 18, 2014
When the downtown lots were charging upwards of $80 for parking, could there be any doubt that the biggest tour of the summer had hit Houston with all the force of a summer lightning storm on Friday night? Beyonce, our very own homegrown megastar was in town, and she brought her hit-making hubby along for the ride. By 8 p.m., the air outside the ballpark was absolutely crackling with anticipatory energy as legions of ladies in their club-ready best lined up with and without the men who love them to bear witness to the spectacle cooked up by the closet thing we've got to a modern-day musical monarchy.
It was the biggest assembly that Minute Maid Park has seen in years, and the stadium staff seemed more than a little overwhelmed by it all. Huge crowds clustered at every entrance waiting as patiently as they could to get inside as harried security tried to check everyone as thoroughly as time allowed. With thousands still outside the gates as the show began, staffers finally gave up on the metal detectors and began sending everybody through, narrowly avoiding what felt like a riot in the making.
By the time I finally made it on to the diamond within? Jesus. Beyonce was already tearing through "Crazy in Love," and the stadium was practically vibrating with ecstatic screams. I can't say how things sounded from the upper deck, but in the outfield, the music pumping out of the massive, blinding stage was sublimely deafening. The superstar singer's megawatt sex appeal filled the air with ease as she set her beautiful booty in motion, sending ripples of pure charisma from the first row to the distant last.
Jay-Z? Yeah, he was there, too, but even the biggest, richest rapper in the game was effortlessly outshone by his magnetic spouse on the evening of her homecoming. All night, the pair traded off songs, appearing and disappearing via trapdoors and smoke as one hit bled into another.
While Beyonce was the undisputed star of the night, the Jiggaman certainly held up his end, keeping the crowd hyped with hits like "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and "Big Pimpin'" while his wife hustled through countless costume changes offstage. The pace at which the show moved was incredible.
Both performers brought such a deep clutch of hits that the spectacle virtually never slowed down. "Ring the Alarm" zoomed straight into "On to the Next One," and "Clique" bounced right into "Diva." There was little to no stage banter, and there was no sitting down: the production was too tightly choreographed. For fans in the back, it must've been something like watching a giant, epic music video as the superduperstars never left video screens large enough to make Jim Crane look like a cheapskate (again).
The highlights were too numerous to keep track of properly, but when the couple came together for hits like "Drunk in Love," "Young Forever" and "Holy Grail," on which Beyonce completely shamed poor Justin Timberlake's vocal, the star power on stage seemed to multiply exponentially. When one performer or the other would make the long trek out to the satellite stage somewhere out near second base, a cascade of women would come flying down the aisles, running over seats in their heels to get close enough to bask in their idols' glow.
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It was completely bonkers; the likes of which I don't think we've seen since Michael Jackson's extraterrestrial heyday. There were lasers, there were flames, and there were at least a dozen backup dancers, singers and musicians to look at, but every eye in the place was on Mrs. Carter every minute that she was on stage. Decked out variously in leather and lace, her vocal highlight of the evening had to be the relatively minor single "Love On Top," which saw her easily navigate some tricky key changes with undulating aplomb.
Though rumors of trouble in Camelot have swirled in the tabloids lately, Jay and Bey certainly seemed to be rock-solid partners in every sense of the word as the show finally began to wind down with "Halo." As the embracing couple watched darling home movies of young daughter Blue Ivy Carter on the big screens along with the crowd, it seemed clear that more than money binds these two together.
For all much of the audience could have cared, of course, Beyonce could have been married to Vladimir Putin. Jay Z may have rocked the ballpark hard with "99 Problems," but it was Queen Bey's night. Shit, it was her city, and as her music proudly declares, she doesn't need any man to run to the world.
Personal Bias: Bow down.
The Crowd: Thick, in every possible sense. Every club in Houston must have been empty.
Overheard In the Crowd: Screaming. Only screaming.
Random Notebook Dump: Really nice that Jay Z still lets the crowd rap Pimp C's verse from "Big Pimpin'" a cappella. Sweet Jones' hometown had no problem handling that on Friday.
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