All of us have those moments when we want to escape reality, never look back and tell ourselves “this is not real life.”
Sunday night’s show at the Mercedes Benz Superdome was a reminder that “real life” has its time and place, and that the next 2.5 hours, 42-song set, would be a temporary escape from the monotony of everyday.
Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run Tour took over the Dome and transformed the space into a Bonnie and Clyde-esque crime scene … two lovers on the run — an attempt to escape the mundane and a reminder that love is the only thing that matters. Or, as Jay says, “All you need in this life of sin, is me and my girlfriend.”
Before the show began, there was a reminder on the projection screen that “This is not real life.” Once the powerhouse duo took the stage, preceded by black and white videos of a thieving couple on the loose, the two jumped right into their 2003 hit “03 Bonnie & Clyde,” an on-the-run romance that seemingly began more than a decade ago (real life). Bey and Jay didn’t wait for an encore to jump right into mega hits “Upgrade U” and the 2007 single “Crazy In Love.” Most notable during these performances: Beyoncé’s ability to move her flawless body and demand attention with her booming voice.
After the initial collaboration between Bey and Jay, the duo switched between their respective songs on stage. Jay sang “Diamond Is Forever” and then, to “slow it down for the weed smokers,” the Magna Carta Holy Grail hit, “Tom Ford.” Beyoncé returned to the stage explosively with “Run the World (Girls).” Appearing alone on the massive stage, she danced and sang the first half of the song without support from her backup dancers. It’s clear she’s an Independent Woman (as can be noted during her Destiny’s Child days), and her role as a feminist and supporter of equality among the sexes will not be sacrificed for a second, even when performing in a G-string leotard.
It quickly became apparent that everyone was settling in for a show with Beyoncé at the helm and Jay Z, more often than not, acting as the filler between Beyoncé hits. Queen Bey sang tracks from her 2013 surprise audiovisual album “BEYONCÉ,” with the cult hit “Flawless.” Thousands of people joined the singer in asserting that they “woke up like dis” and that their diamonds, rocks, and everything in between were “flawless.”
The stage merits mention for its sheer size, with massive screens, thousands of lights, pyrotechnics, and perfectly balanced bass. It allowed the couple to transform reality, assisting Beyoncé more than Jay with her vocals and choreography. In the same vein, Beyoncé’s wardrobe was a gem in and of itself. From a denim army getup to wedding attire and a black-and-white American flag train for one gown, the clothing highlighted her bodacious figure while contributing to the On the Run motif.
The videos shown between various parts of the show were cinematographic visions themselves. Featured in black and white with Tarantino and other major Hollywood influences, they were heavy on the artillery. As was Bey during her choreography. The final act portrayed a Bonnie and Clyde shot down, before cutting to “Die in Love and Live Forever.”
The finale began with Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail track featuring Beyoncé “Part II (On the Run),” the namesake for the tour. The two sang a long version of Jay’s “Young Forever,” while videos from the couple’s wedding, personal life, and their now equally famous daughter, Blue Ivy, aired on the large screens. Bey concluded with “Halo” as the couple watched, embracing each other, and smiling at the screen images of a happy, healthy family. After Bey finished up “Halo” and the home videos came to an end, the screen read, “This Is Real Life.”
The perfectly-timed climax occurred halfway through the show, with the duo performing their most recent hit, “Drunk in Love.” Despite rumors over the past several weeks that the Forbes’ most powerful couple is heading for divorce, the two had a Dome full of people convinced they are in love, as Jay hugged Bey from behind and kissed her on the neck. The two may have been dropping hints during their songs (“Resentment,” “Ex-Factor” by Lauryn Hill, sung by Bey, and “Song Cry” by Jay), as has been reported throughout the tour. But, to some degree, the rumors seemed to put that much more emotion into their performances. These artists, collectively known as the Carters, are lovers, dreamers, and fighters for a cause.
And this is real life.