Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘On the Run’ tour at Soldier Field in Chicago

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Beyoncé and Jay Z’s ‘On the Run’ tour at Soldier Field in Chicago

Posted on: July 26th, 2014 by tommyj

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Chicago — Most couples watch home movies on their TVs, computers or smartphones.

Beyoncé and Jay Z watch them on an enormous screen with about 50,000 people in a packed football stadium.

Such is the charmed life of the most famous power couple in music, whose "On the Run" tour, their first joint trek together, made a stop at Soldier Field on Thursday.

Although, according to recent rumors, their marriage isn’t so charmed. Beyoncé herself continued to stir speculation Thursday, changing a lyric in the been-cheated-on ballad "Resentment," as she’s done on recent dates, to reflect the length of time she’s been with Jay Z.

Jay Z, meanwhile, spoke more to the capacity crowd than he did his wife, and it wasn’t until Beyoncé’s "Drunk in Love," about halfway into the 2 1/2-hour event, that the couple even touched, with Jay giving Bey an awkward from-behind hug. Queen Bey, meanwhile, reserved her hottest physical chemistry for a chaise longue — with some steamy straddles, slides and hair tosses for "Partition."

Keep in mind this was a blockbuster stadium concert, not a marriage counseling session. And the way the show was structured, with one co-headliner frequently taking brief breaks while the other is on stage, there wasn’t much opportunity for interaction to begin with.

But what there was between the stars barely registered above the forced bromance at last year’s Jay Z and Justin Timberlake Soldier Field show — although there was no denying husband and wife’s intense commitment to their craft and crowd Thursday.

That was especially true of Beyoncé. Yes, Beyoncé’s body language was so loud you could hear it in the cheap seats, leading six female dancers through a Miley Cyrus-crushing twerk fest for "Crazy in Love," and popping her hips, head and shoulder, perfectly timed to the sound of locked and loaded guns on "Ring the Alarm."

But she brought the same level of star power simply sitting down, singing through the pain, and ultimately, arriving at hope, for "Resentment," where Beyoncé wore an unassuming wedding dress, one of about a dozen looks Thursday.

And with all the reasons to love "Why Don’t You Love Me" — the backing dancers pulling double duty as the horn section; the infectious, uncontrollable smile that ruined Beyoncé’s attempts at stoic rock star posing — her vibrant vocals were the best thing about it.

Her talents made her an exceptional occasional hype man for her husband — especially on "Holy Grail," where she easily topped Timberlake’s guest verse with richer vocal range and greater gravitas. Jay Z, in turn, wisely let his wife hog the spotlight for joint performances of "’03 Bonnie & Clyde," "Upgrade U" and "Crazy." But possibly motivated by Beyoncé’s passion, Jay Z seemed more animated running through "Tom Ford," "Big Pimpin’" and other hits he played in the same stadium the year before.

Another reason might be because Jay Z had no other humans to rely on onstage than himself — unlike on the joint Timberlake tour, the band was kept out of sight.

But Jay Z, and Beyoncé, still had a meticulously structured show as a safety net. An impressive live manifestation of Beyoncé’s cinematic self-titled visual album suddenly released in December, there was drama and calculation in every image on the screen Thursday — from the arty black-and-white montages depicting the power couple as Bonnie and Clyde to the sweeping tracking shots of Beyoncé and her dancers at the start of a routine. It all had the look and feel of an edgy, big-budget summer movie.

It’s an incredible accomplishment and should really be seen by their fans and lovers of live concert spectacles. And the chance will come when HBO airs an "On the Run" concert special Sept. 20 from the tour’s Paris stop. Catch it on your TV, computer or smartphone — or a football stadium Jumbotron, should you have the means.



■ Even good summer blockbusters these days do more than entertain — they enlighten, too. And there was some deeper meaning with "On the Run," with Beyoncé leading a feminist-driven, "be independent" rallying cry through "Run the World (Girls)" and "***Flawless."

■ With 40-plus songs in the set list, Beyoncé still sneaked in a snippet of the Jackson 5’s "I Want You Back" during "Love on Top," and sang a soulful cover of Lauryn Hill’s "Ex-Factor."

■ Back in December, I made the case that Beyoncé may be a more worthy heir apparent to Michael Jackson than front-runner Justin Timberlake. Don’t get me wrong; Timberlake is a superstar, but compared with Timberlake a year ago at Soldier Field, Beyoncé was the better entertainer in every way — from her dance moves to her vocals, her wardrobe to cutting-edge production that would make Jackson proud.

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