Ep.306 – Jay-Z @ Vanderbilt Memorial Gymnasium – Nashville, TN

Chrystal Nov 17th, 2009 | By
Category: Jay-Z, Nashville, Video Concert Reviews

I was due for a good rap concert, and Vanderbilt came through again with Jay-Z performing the last show of his Fall tour at the school’s Memorial Gymnasium.

As the clock on the screens counted down the launch to show time, you felt the buzz in the room. The band started playing chords and Rihanna’s recorded voice echoed off the walls. Then, the screams began. Jay-Z rose from the stage and we all knew who was going to run this town tonight.

Something has always distanced me from Jay-Z, but all that changed after seeing him Friday night. Overly cocky people intimidate me. The fact that he’s so powerful and so sure of himself used to throw me off; but, hey, if he has our angel Beyoncé – he’s got to be an all right guy.

Photo Credit: Steve Cross with Nashville Scene

Being a listener that focuses on music more than the lyrics, I used to feel that Jay-Z’s beats had a catchy hook, but the songs didn’t go anywhere. There wasn’t a big enough build in a song, or enough movement in albums as a whole. Listening to a CD in full, got dry for me – where as Dr. Dre, Snoop, and “Biggie” had more tone variety. Perhaps Jay-Z composed this way, so listeners would focus on the lyrics – as they are poetically genius. Still, I always had a bunch of Jay-Z songs scattered throughout my mixes, and I wasn’t about to miss his Nashville show.

It’s seems that he’s added more style to his phrasing and song formatting over the years. As he ripped through hit after hit, the pace of this show never slowed down, but never felt rushed. He thanked the audience for their support and energy over and over again, and at one point said “I don’t know how I’m going to go home after this sh*t. I don’t want to go.”

The use of a live band in concert – complete with horns and a female backup singer (who is right up there with Ms. Alicia Keys) puts him on a different platform. It sounded full, and matched his strength as performer.

Photo Credit: Steve Cross with Nashville Scene

The set was video screens shaped into a skyline. You can tell a lot of time was put into designing this show and rehearsing for it. Jay-Z is not only an icon, but a business man who believes in providing a quality product. He could very well grab a DJ and a backdrop with his picture on it, and people would still pay $40 -$100 for a ticket – but he has the smarts to know that his fans are better than that.

He may have been walking on thin Tennessean ice when he announced that The Blueprint 3 surpassed Elvis in album sales saying, “I think we can officially say that ‘Elvis has left the building.’ I know…it’s f**ked up.” However, nobody seemed to mind. Achieving something like that, earns you some bragging rights.

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