Review: Jay-Z and Kanye West at Birmingham LG Arena, 13/06/12.

Two of the biggest artists in music at the moment, on one stage? Hell, yeah!

I’ve seen both perform separately and so went to this gig with a very definite idea of who would produce the best show. When I saw Kanye West in Newcastle, 2008, he was unresponsive, disinterested and very, very late. Later that evening, he assaulted a photographer outside a nightclub and that was the start of his rather public downfall. Less than a year later, he stormed the stage during Taylor Swift’s award acceptance at the MTV VMAs and the industry – along with the media and the public – turned their back on Mr West.

His public rehabilitation came in the form of a duet album with his mentor (and boss), Jay-Z. Their ‘Watch the Throne’ album is an absolute hiphop classic. And last night’s ‘Watch the Throne’ gig raised the bar even higher.

With hydraulic stages and laser light shows, the show promised to be a corker. However, the show was quite stripped back, letting the rappers do what they do best. There were no dancers, no special guests and no gimmicks – just two of the best artists in the world and a sea of adoring fans chanting along.

Whether it’s the successful businessman in Jay-Z or just genuine enthusiasm, he knows how to keep the crowd happy. He’s obviously been taking lessons from his mate Chris Martin – Jay frequently expressed his gratitude to the adoring crowd. Kanye certainly is getting better at interacting with the crowd but he remains slightly detached at times. He was definitely a million times more interesting to watch than 4 years ago.

The show was over two hours long and featured plenty of solo time for both artists but when they got together, it was explosive. I was at the back of the arena but I was as excited as the people in the mosh pit – the atmosphere was just electric.

These two men will be remembered by my generation as being the most influential men in music. Their lyrics are insightful and sometimes funny. Their patriotism is really moving and their honesty is often brutal. I adore them.

This was the best gig I’ve ever seen. It will take a lot to top it.

Vic x


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