JAY-Z and Beyoncé at BC Place, 10/2/18
It’s a no-brainer to say Vancouver went “APESHIT” for JAY-Z and Beyoncé at BC Place last night. But more importantly, Vancouver felt sparks fly between the cultural power couple.
JAY and Bey have made plenty of headlines due to their familial affairs. Their future together looked bleak amongst reports about marriage counseling, infidelity, and a fight in an elevator.
Last June, though, 10 days into their On the Run II Tour, JAY-Z and Beyoncé surprise-released Everything Is Love as the Carters. The album is a united front. Together, they unapologetically celebrate black excellence and love that has survived strife. They flaunt their success, wealth, and sovereignty, giving four middle fingers to institutional gatekeepers of taste like the Grammys, the Super Bowl, and Billboard.
The show at BC Place opened with a video featuring declarative statements: “THIS IS REAL LIFE.” “LOVE NEVER CHANGES.” “LOVE IS UNIVERSAL.” High above the screens, a facade parted, unveiling the gangster and the queen. They stood motionlessly, hand in hand, dressed from head to toe in sparkling white. The platform lowered them to stage level, and the spectacle was off and running.
JAY-Z and Beyoncé brought all the stadium show fixings. A mobile stage glided over the audience’s heads. The show was loaded with fire – and fireworks; even fans halfway across the stadium could feel the heat as flames shot into the air.
In exquisite videos, the couple laid in bed. They ran into each other’s arms and slow-danced on the beach. They bounced their children – Blue Ivy, Rumi, and Sir – in their arms. The videos showed JAY-Z and Beyoncé at their most intimate and domestic as they reared their lineage and legacy.
Juxtaposed were scenes of JAY-Z and Beyoncé at their most debauched. They lit up night clubs. They flexed in palatial dwellings and showed off a bedroom literally made of money. But montages of physical violence against black people served as sobering reminders that JAY-Z and Beyoncé are the exception, not the rule.
Of course, JAY-Z and Beyoncé performed their collaborations from both the past and present. They two-stepped and gazed into each other’s eyes during “Part II (On the Run).” They took things back to 2002 with “Bonnie & Clyde.” They marched with a procession of dancers and musicians during “Drunk in Love.” (The musicians and dancers spent much of the night performing while standing in a grid behind JAY-Z and Beyoncé. Think Hollywood Squares.) For “Crazy in Love,” Beyoncé slipped into sparkling booty shorts and a sparkling silver tank top.
JAY-Z and Beyoncé gave each other space to shine on their own. He rattled off numerous bangers alone including “On to the Next One,” “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt,” the brief but explosive “Beach Is Better,” and “99 Problems.”
But Beyoncé was the star of the show, whether she was doing her own songs or cuts from Everything Is Love. A jailbreak siren signaled the beginning of “Ring the Alarm.” It was one of her most fiery performances, as was “Run the World (Girls).” Middle fingers waved high in the air during “fuck you” anthem “Sorry.” She dominated with “Freedom.” Fans went nuts at the first two notes of “Formation.” She walked with utmost poise and a killer stare during the horn-filled “Don’t Hurt Yourself.”
“Do we have any naughty girls in the house tonight? Do we have any sexy ladies in the house tonight?” she asked before launching into “Naughty Girl.”
After nearly three hours, JAY-Z and Beyoncé sent fans home happy and hyped with one last upper, “APESHIT.” Credits rolled on one of the screens, completing the cinematic experience.
JAY-Z and Beyoncé seem to have put their marital turmoil behind them. They are putting their family, legacy, and the cultural ascendance of black people first. By baring the honesty, accountability, and cooperation required to make love last, JAY-Z and Beyoncé show their humanity. But they are also untouchable, and they make sure to remind the world of that. The road back to a stable, healthy marriage can be costly, after all. The Carters are lucky they can afford it.