J+B = Beyoncé Part I

(I started writing this piece last Saturday after attending the On the Run Tour on Friday, September 12th. I’d put it away after starting to work on something else. The concert aired on HBO last night and I awoke to virtually my entire Facebook timeline discussing it. So I decided to finish this piece. It’s a little long so I’ve split it into three parts already scheduled to be posted later today. Here you go . . .)

Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s “On the Run” concert stage features a prominent “J+B” logo. However, on the night of September 12th the Parisian audience in Stade de France clearly belonged to B! I was never really a Destiny’s Child fan. I still couldn’t name their albums if challenged. Sure, I liked some of their songs but not enough to buy any of them. The same went for early solo Beyoncé. On the other hand, I’ve been a Jay-Z fan since “Volume 2: Hard Knock Life.” I was, admittedly, a little late to the game and only discovered “Reasonable Doubt” after becoming a fan of his later work. And despite me having been a Jay-Z fan first, that night I too was captivated by Mrs. Carter.

I’d considered myself to be a pretty casual Beyoncé fan until, at the urging of my hair stylist, I went to see “The Mrs. Carter Tour” while vacationing in Ireland in 2013. Seeing Beyoncé perform live will create an instant fan of even her harshest critics. During a 2 1/2 hour show she gives 110% from start to finish. Even during the few minutes when she’s offstage changing she leaves the audience with entertainment. Whether it’s an audio/visual display, dance performances by Les Twins or other dancers from various genres, a performance by her all female band or The Mama’s, there’s never a moment where her fans aren’t being entertained. She makes certain that the crowd leaves feeling as though they’ve seen a show worth every Euro spent.

My evening started with a 45-minute commute from my flat in the 11th that included a 15-minute walk from the RER (train) station to the stadium with hundreds of other anxious fans. Once at the stadium, I immediately went to the souvenir booth. (Yes, I have to have an overpriced concert shirt with all the tour dates listed on the back even though I will never wear it.) After securing my shirt, I then proceeded to the concession stand for a flat Heineken and a Merguez sandwich (spicy lamb sausage) on a slightly stale bun. In my rush to get back home to get dressed and start my commute, I’d forgotten to eat so I found myself subjected to an overpriced, underwhelming, 15€ (~ $19.42 USD) “dinner.”

As I sat in my seat and waited for the concert to start, I noticed that the DJ was playing quite the interesting mix of music that was hit or miss with the audience. It seems that J+B brought their American DJ to entertain their Parisian audience. The songs ranged from Maroon 5 to Jeezy. When Jeezy’s “RIP” started to play, I seemed to be the only one in my entire section who even recognized the song. And I was definitely the only person to Wobble when V.I.C.’s “Wobble” started to play. It was probably better that way considering I don’t even know how to Wobble. A few more songs played before I realized that we were past the concert start time. It was the restless souls in my section who actually brought it to my attention by trying, unsuccessfully, to start a wave. Scheduled concert start time: 20:00. Current time: 20:59.

The crowd’s response to the DJ’s random mix of music continued its ebbs and flows until 21:08 when the lights went down during Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” As soon as the lights went down the crowd stood to its feet and erupted into cheers and screams. Then at 21:10 Robin Thicke stopped singing and the screen on stage lit up with a snippet from Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s short-film, “Run.” The clip was in French with English subtitles. I’m not sure anyone in the crowd could tell you what the clip entailed since we were all still screaming in anticipation of the actual concert. The part I do remember is Beyoncé saying “Call me back, I need some more packs,” or something to that effect. I remember that piece because immediately after she said it, the movie screen dimmed then it all began . . .
(continued in Part II)