Live Review: Watch The Throne Jay-Z and Kanye West – Staples Center, Los Angeles
Tue, 13 Dec 2011 07:29:36
Watch The Throne is the concert equivalent of Star Wars.
Over the course of last night's sold out Staples Center show, Jay-Z and Kanye West took the audience to a galaxy of their own creation far, far away.
West was like the young Luke Skywalker ready to change the world with his uncontainable ambition, while Jay-Z served as his Obi-Wan Kenobi, a mentor and comrade who's equally ready for revolution. You want revolution? You'll get it from these two on this tour. Marvelous, massive, and magnificent, Watch The Throne proved to be the ultimate 21st century concert experience shepherded by two of the most important entertainers in history.
"We're going to need everyone to lose their motherfucking minds and go H.A.M. with us tonight," declared a smiling Jay-Z clad in black from head-to-toe with an American flag bandana draped from his back pocket. Lasers shone from the ceiling onto the podium in the middle of the floor where Jay-Z stood. Directly across from him, they bathed West in the same light. Separated from the soundboard to the stage, podiums underneath both icons rose revealing elevated cubes with 360 degrees of high definition video below. Unlike anything ever replicated onstage, the Watch The Throne production remained just as magical as the rapping. "H.A.M" rumbled like a 21st century call-to-arms, driven by West in black leather kilt with white war paint resembling a futuristic William Wallace.
Sharks floated on the screens under the duo as "Who Gon Stop Me" exploded, showcasing both individuals' razor sharp flows. They collectively moved to the front stage standing in front of a gigantic American flag as flickering lights blazed through the fabric. "Otis" sounded sweetly soulful and infectiously incendiary as Jay-Z and West were simply on fire. During "Welcome to the Jungle", Jay-Z spit "Black Axl Rose, move halfs and wholes, come down to the jungle, just ask for Hov". His Appetite for Destruction couldn't be quenched as he steamrolled the beats with an elegant staccato with flames rising behind him.
During "Jigga What, Jigga Who", Jay-Z conducted the crowd to respond in tandem with the beat, matching the flurry of his words to the blinking lights. After Jay-Z ran through a couple classics solo, West took the stage alone. A prism of lasers enveloped him as he delivered a flawless "Can't Tell Me Nothing", treaded impenetrably through haze and smoke on "Flashing Lights", and led the pack into a new dawn for rap on "Jesus Walks". Jay-Z returned and a massive guitar solo punctuated the end of his "Public Service Announcement (Interlude)", while an atom bomb overtook the screen.
As Jay-Z and West ripped through "Run This Town", the title felt apropos. They deserve to "run" pop culture at this point delivering on every level, especially the juggernaut collaboration "Monster" where they translated West's wildest and weirdest impulses into mainstream high art.
The show's most poignant moment came during "Made in America", a standout from the Watch The Throne album. Jay-Z took a second to say, "We're living our dream in front of you, Los Angeles. Know this shit is possible. We want to share this dream with you today".
Cell phones and lighters from the arena were displayed on the Jumobtrons like stars in the sky, and West made a few confessions toward the end of the track. He announced, "I'm back here with my idol. Dreams come true…Don't let nobody ever tell you what the fuck you can't do…Everybody tells you to be humble. When was the last time, somebody told you to be great, to be amazing, to be awesome?"
You didn't just tell us Kanye, you showed us, and that's the sign of true greatness. It was a timeless tour to support an equally timeless album. George Lucas would be proud.
Were you there?