REVIEW / VIDEOS: Watch The Throne @ New Orleans Arena – 12/3/11

REVIEW / VIDEOS: Watch The Throne @ New Orleans Arena - 12/3/11

Watch The Throne @ New Orleans Arena || 12/3/11 || iThrone Photo by Jimmy Grotting

@ || 12/3/11 || iThrone Photo by Jimmy Grotting

Thanks to Cole Halpern for sharing this review of what may just have been the blockbuster concert event of 2011.

On the eve of his 42nd birthday, legendary rapper and hip hop mogul joined as Watch The Throne at New Orleans Arena for nearly 3 straight hours of downright mesmerizing excitement. It’s tough to classify a mere duo as a super group, but there’s little dissent over whether these two are befitting of this title and after Saturday night, such a moniker may even fall short of describing this powerhouse.

Jay and Kanye initially appeared simultaneously, but on 2 separate stages, with one on the back of the main floor of the arena and the other on the main stage. As the music kicked in, the stages elevated, providing an illusion of floating megastars above their adoring fans. The LED screens on the sides of the platforms portrayed images of sharks, cheetahs attacking their prey and various wildlife. Throughout the night, suggestive social images overtook the screens, complimented by substantial laser effects that filled the room and further added to the show’s bravado and big ticket mystique.

Watch The Throne @ New Orleans Arena || 12/3/11 || Photo by Jimmy Grotting

As for the music, the lengthy set kicked off with H*A*M” and the hard-hitting, techno-infused beats of “I Can’t Stop”, a version executed to sheer perfection. HOVA performed the song’s final verse a capella, in keeping with past tendencies. Eventually the two hip-hop juggernauts joined forces on the main stage and performed “Otis”, the latest single off of their new album Watch the Throne. Jay commanded the audience with his laid back demeanor, while Kanye revved up the floor with his sense for the dramatic and seemingly bottomless pit of energy. While on-stage together they ran through most of their new songs and a few oldies but goodies such as “Monster”, “Run this Town” and “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)” and a soulful and rare performance of Kanye’s hit “All Falls Down”. As far as crowd response, “Gotta Have it” notably made the crowd implode into wild celebration. This duet rides on a complex, quasi-tribal beat and working together in concert definitely brought out the best in each other. Kanye’s light voice and Jigga Man’s deep flow complimented each other nicely as the two went to work, and at times they’d take a chance to assist each other and ad lib a verse. It was an incredible dynamic that even the casual hip-hop fan could appreciate to watch these two generational talents work together.

Eventually Kanye headed back stage before elevating himself for a 5 or 6 song segment that included slower hits like “Heartless” and “Runaway”. This portion stood in sharp contrast from the loud and bumpin’ 1st set of the show, but didn’t disappoint without his royal counterpart. The high stage was draped in solid red lights and more of the slick, glitzy lasers that accented the show’s early going.

Next, Jay took the stage solo, knocking out hits like “Empire State Of Mind”, and an intriguing, enigmatic and notably dark version of “On to the Next One”, performed in the dark with the exception of a green laser display behind him. The soon-to-be 42-year-old’s flow and cadence remains as crisp and forceful as its ever been. There were no slip ups and Jay’s delivery remains is as good as ever. “Dirt off Your Shoulders” closed out Jay-Z’s mini-set before Kanye joined him once again for the final portion of the show. When he came back out, Jay donned the classic all black look in a classic hoody with black jeans and original red Air Jordans. He also had on 3 gold rope necklaces, a staple of urban New York style in the from the early hip-hop era.

This was the real climax of the show as it afforded the opportunity to see just how well these close friends and lyrical genius’ feed off of each other. As they sat on the foot of the stage and the music for a “New Day” came on, Kanye proclaimed that this “was the realest sh*t [he had] ever written”. The large screens that kept a close up on Jay and Kanye’s faces throughout the concert showed a visibly emotional face of the controversial rapper when he spit the line “I’ll never let his mom move to LA / knowing that she can’t take the pressure now lets all pray”, before Jay remarked in his verse “it took me 26 years for me to find my path”. This comment made me reflect on Jay’s career and how he has been a consistent force in the music industry since 1996, an unprecedented fact and accomplishment in the hip-hop kingdom to achieve this kind of longevity while maintaining relevance. The song was followed by Kanye’s insistence on listening to Jay spit “Hard Knock Life”, a timeless classic, a move that showed his admiration for his long time mentor. The set continued with “Big Pimpin’”, hard hitting version of the Rick Rubin produced “99 Problems” with Ye helping on the track, “H to the Hizzo”, Jay’s “Public Service Announcement” and “Good Life”.

The show initially ended when Kanye threw his mic and signaled to Jay with a huge smile that he had had enough. This however was not before they decided to play their song “Ni***s in Paris” as an encore, 7 times in a row. After the 4th time Jay asked audience members in the front row, “you promise you won’t be mad?” Then they went on for the 5th, 6th and 7th performances of the song. Their energy and enthusiasm never regressed and despite the repetition, the crowd only responded louder and more enthusiastically. The reception, the excitement and the passion of the artists during this show demonstrated that no matter how old they get, they’ve still got it. They also proved that after all of these years and all of these hits that they are unparallel to anyone in the rap game, a supposed young man’s industry. It is unbelievable that they can be so good, for so long. This performance was proof that the audience was truly watching the greatest rappers alive. As Mr. West was well into 1of his 7 final verses in “Ni**as in Paris,” he remarked to the audience that “you are now watching the throne”, and he was correct. Long live the kings.

N***as in Paris

December 6, 2011 |  by  |  Reviews, Videos
About the author

Wesley grew up in coastal Georgia and is a former resident of The Music City and The Big Easy where he helped get LMB NOLA off-the-ground after launching in January 2011. Over the past few years, he has also contributed steadily to JamBase and Relix Magazine. Recently, Hodges moved on to L.A. where Abita Beer is hard to find, costs about $6 if located and impromptu parading in the streets will most likely get you arrested on the spot.

 
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