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Concert Reviews:
Beyonce and Jay-Z run the night, in Aretha Franklin's honor, at Ford Field

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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DETROIT -- Two and a half hours, nearly four dozen songs, more than two dozen costume changes and a Jerry Bruckheimer film's worth of pyrotechnics came down to four words at Beyonce and Jay-Z's On The Run II Tour show Monday night, Aug. 13, at Ford Field.

All you need is love.

As the married pop icons mashed Jay-Z's "Forever Young" into Ed Sheeran's "Perfect Duet" towards the end of the night, the message "This is real love" appeared on the massive LED screen -- the message being that love, like the show, is the proverbial marathon and not a sprint, sometimes messy but, if done right, worthwhile in the end. The couple made its period of discord public in the wake of Beyonce's revealing 2016 album "Lemonade," but on Monday they presented a united and harmonious front, taking the crowd of about 44,000 on a warts-and-all -- but stylishly so -- journey through their good, bad and ugly.

They also dedicated Monday's show to the ailing Aretha Franklin, in reportedly critical condition in home hospice, with Beyonce saying at the outset "We love you and thank you for all the beautiful music."

The 44-song show was long on concept though short breathing room -- and humor. Beyonce and Jay-Z came out together, riding down a makeshift elevator holding hands before kicking things off with a trio of his songs -- "Holy Grail," "Part II (On the Run" and "'03 Bonnie & Clyde," Beyonce adding melodic flavor to his forceful raps. The night shifted between solo and tandem performances, an impressively seamless flow that was particularly impressive when their chemistry really kicked in -- especially during a late-show run that ran Beyonce's "Deja Vu" into Jay-Z's "Show Me What You Got" and finished with him lacing a rap into her "Crazy in Love" before leaving the stage to let Beyonce and her 12 dancers (including Detroiter Dominique Louise) finished the song.

There were also effective performances of "Summer," NICE" and the topical "Black Effect" from "Everything is Love," the couple's debut album as The Carters.

It was not a competition, of course, but it's hard for anyone to best Jay-Z when he's on his game. Storming through favorites such as "On to the Next One," "99 Problems," "Big Pimpin'," "Clique," "Run This Town" and more, the rapper did, well, run the night, his laser-focused solo performances muscled up the show as a complement to Beyonce's artier dance formations and across-the-board song stylings, including an emotive "Resentment" and an operatic "I Care."

Jay-Z also filled the aisles near the stage early in the show. telling the crowd to ignore the security guards and get as close as they can to the two long runways that jutted from the main stage.

There was as much to see as there was to hear on Monday as well, from the pyrotechnics to a platform that raised and moved the length of the ramps over the heads of those who paid a premium to stand in the red-carpeted Club Carter in front of the stage. A series of video "interludes," filmed in Jamaica, told the story of the couple's trip to the brink and back -- ending in a baptismal scene of cleansing -- while the band and dance troupes, including a couple of contortionists, provided their own kind of backdrop as they performed on a four-tiered structure at the rear of the stage.

If the show did began to wear a bit long the Carters certainly picked it up towards the end, finishing with a joyous "APES***" from the new album. "'Til the next time," Beyonce announced as she and Jay-Z prepared to leave the stage -- a promise a great many of those at Ford Field would love to see her keep.

The Carters' show length made their opening acts somewhat superfluous -- certainly the duo of Chloe x Halle, whose sound mix boomed around the stadium in front of a paltry percentage of the crowd. DJ Khaled lit things up a bit more, however, playing a mix of hip-hop hits and bringing two members of Migos -- Quavo and Offset, performing with Drake on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 14-15, at Little Caesars Arena -- on stage for pair of songs. Khaled paid respects to Aretha Franklin as well, sending love as he played her iconic hit "Respect."

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