Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s On The Run II tour lived up to its name as it kicked off in Cardiff last night – with a show that lasted as long as a marathon but felt as thrilling as a sprint.
The two-and-a-half hour set took in many of the couple’s biggest hits but the key to its success – as with their previous joint tour in 2014 – was combining the two into a seamless set.
So, each star had their own moment in the spotlight (and, indeed, their own runway) – Jay-Z strutting through 99 Problems and FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt; Beyoncé unveiling stunningly choregraphed takes on Formation and Run The World (Girls). But they also combined to great effect, Beyoncé taking the Justin Timberlake role on the opening Holy Grail and the Mr Hudson one on the closing Young Forever, while Jay-Z beefed up Déjà Vu with his swaggering presence.
There was a smattering of empty seats inside the Principality Stadium – and no shortage of cheap ticket deals available outside – but there was still no expense spared on the scale of the show. Featuring gigantic screens, an elaborate stage set and a floating platform that transported the stars into the middle of the crowd, the show was every bit as spectacular as Beyoncé’s solo extravaganzas.
Much of the largely female crowd had clearly come to see Beyoncé, but the couple’s stage time was divided equally, while every interlude was filled with home movie footage seemingly aimed at putting to bed rumours about the rockiness of their relationship, after the indiscretions documented on Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Jay-Z’s 4:44 albums.
And, indeed, their power couple chemistry was convincingly intact on versions of Drunk In Love and Crazy In Love (the original take rather than the 50 Shades version). Yet the show also had an edge, thanks to Beyoncé’s fiercely feminist Me, Myself & I and Hova’s understated, yet supremely powerful The Story Of OJ.
It ended in more sentimental fashion, however, Beyoncé singing her version of Ed Sheeran’s Perfect to her husband before Young Forever saw them leave the stage in an embrace.
The UK tour continues with dates in Glasgow (June 9), Manchester (13) and London (15/16). But on this form, Bey and Jay will be on the run together for a long while yet…