Legends of the Summer: Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z at the Rogers Centre – Gig review

July 31, 2013

Suit and Tie

Who: Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z
Where: Rogers Centre
When: Wednesday July 17, 2013
One Word: Legendary 

You don’t find yourself attending concerts at the Blue Jays’ home quite often these days. When walking to the Rogers Centre in Toronto’s 43-degree heat, I was wishing it to be at a closer venue like the ACC. However, once I got there it was a different story. For a concert with two legends like Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z, and for the rare and special event of it being the first show off the huge Legends of the Summer tour, you need that 54,000 capacity arena. This night alone was sold-out, holding 45,000 individuals including hip-hop artist Drake.

After an hour of DJ Cassidy’s spins to get the party started, Timberlake and Jay-Z emerged at opposite ends of the stage, each in front of a huge screen projecting the other’s image. As predicted, the two kicked off the show with Jay-Z’s “Holy Grail,” the leadoff song from his new album, “Magna Carta… Holy Grail,” (being No. 1 album in Canada and U.S.) in which was performed in front of the same religious statue imagery off Magna Carta’s cover.

As the song didn’t sit with me well on the record – it was definitely much better live making it a terrific opening. Timberlake’s beautiful falsettos were impeccable and Jay-Z’s rhymes were effortlessly delivered. As the cameras pointed toward Timberlake my eyes were stuck on Jay-Z. Moments before the show I discovered that the hip-hop star was 44-years-old and to my surprise the HOV never been so hipster – wearing a short-sleeved white button up shirt, with chains hanging down and a backwards Nets hat for that full edge appearance. After “Holy Grail,” it was Timberlake’s turn on “Give It To Me,” the Timbaland song he co-wrote and guested on, and of course his very own “Rock Your Body.” With this began the shared momentum with the two legends taking leads and contributing to each other’s pieces. The crowd bounced and jammed as the two took turns at the mic, backed up by fantastic visual projections and a soulful and vigorous 14-person band.

We all know that Jay-Z can destroy any track to the fullest while bringing the crowd to bounce with the HOV sign to the beat – however Timberlake’s performance astonished me entirely. When attending his FutureSex/LoveSounds concert six years ago, Timberlake brought out many dancers shaking away this way and that way that it does cause a distraction and takes away from the talent itself. For the Legends of the Summer tour, he left all the dancing chicks and presented himself as the front man of a tremendous band. His ability to bring poignant and groovy pop tunes highlights his true and very own musicianship – while also playing piano, keyboards and electric and acoustic guitar (which he also did on some of Jay-Z’s songs as well as his own). At only 32, Timberlake still portrays that magnetic charm as he sings.

JT Front Man
But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any dancing present. Timberlake and Jay-Z both encouraged the crowd to do the two-step – just to groove along to some of the songs. Cheers blasted at every corner of the venue when “My Love” began before Jay-Z came out having the crowd rock-out and bounce for “Big Pimpin’.”

The big moment was when Jay-Z told the fans:

“You are making us feel right at home,” he said. “We appreciate all your love. But I still think we’re at a seven. We can’t leave here with it being a 7 at the official start of the tour. We gotta turn it all the way up, not to 10, not to 20, not to 30, 40, 50, turn it all the way up to 99.”

With that the crowd shouted and cheered as an aggressive and stirring version of “99 Problems.” Jay-Z then played a remarkable amount of tracks, such as “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt,” “Clique,” and an incredible turn on “Heart of the City” as Timberlake sat down at the keys to sing the Bobby Bland “Ain’t No Love” part of the legend’s rap.

As Jay-Z went off stage it was now Timberlake’s turn by himself onstage. His spicy and raw attitude for “Summer Love” had all the ladies around me cheering and yelling. Some indulging dance moves were performed for the “Love Stoned/I Think She Knows” interlude; the groove was set on the next song “Let The Groove Get In,” and followed by what Timberlake called “the baby-butt spanking new ‘Take Back The Night.’” – which was the only silent moment of the show.

Jay-Z returned to the stage and for the last 45 minutes of the show the two alternated spotlights. Jay-Z delivering “Song Cry,” Timberlake attacking one of his greatest jam of all time “Cry Me A River” followed by sitting at the upright piano for “What Goes Around Comes Around” and Jay-Z knocking-off “Tom Ford” from Magna Carta.

It became a little too easy to predict which songs would come until one of the coolest and best collabs they did occurred. A spotlight shone on Timberlake singing Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” and it was no shock on what Jay-Z song will burst out next. With Jay-Z kicking off “Empire State of Mind” we were all hoping for a special guest to appear – with his wife Beyonce being in down, she didn’t come onstage to take Alicia Keys’ part, or on “Run This Town” which Rihanna’s vocals on digital playback was used (Rihanna was a surprise guest with the two legends in London Sunday evening at Yahoo! Wireless Festival). It was a disappointment but it didn’t take away of a great performance by both Timberlake and Jay-Z.

Jay-Z rapped his “Encore” next and Timberlake knocked us away with the forever sexy and spontaneous “SexyBack.”

Predictably, they opened the encore with “Suit & Tie” – both classy in black blazers and Jay-Z carrying a champagne glass.

After they concluded the night by pumping up the 45,000 with “make some noise,” Timberlake started singing the lines to Alphaville’s “Forever Young” – the moment that everyone knew was going to be the last song. They dedicated the song to Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen murdered by neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who was acquitted Saturday of second-degree murder. Jay-Z then took over his “Young Forever” track, the fourth single off his “The Blueprint 3” album.

“Peace and love,” concluded Jay-Z. “We are the legends of the summer.”

And with that ended one of the best-collaborated concerts ever with two of the greatest legends of music history.

© Jessica Paiva, Music Vice

Photos by Adriana Rocha and Jessica Reis:

Holy Grail
Give It To Me
Rock Your Body
I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)
‘Izzo (H.O.V.A)
Excuse Me Miss
On To The Next One
Like I Love You
My Love
Big Pimpin’
Tunnel Vision
Jigga What, Jigga Who
Public Service Announcement
Somewhere In America
I Don’t Know
’99 Problems
’03 Bonnie & Clyde
Heart Of The City (Ain’t No Love)
Pusher Love Girl
Summer Love
Until The End Of Time
Let The Groove Get In
Cry Me A River
What Goes Around… Comes Around
Tom Ford
Dirt Off Your Shoulder
Empire State Of Mind
Run This Town
Suit & Tie
Young Forever (dedicated to Trayvon Martin)

Internet links:
Justin Timberlake

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