Jay-Z at The Fillmore Miami Beach
March 21, 2008
Better Than: You Even Know
The Review: If somebody told me a week or so ago that I’d be spending this Good Friday at The Fillmore digging Jay-Z, I’d have told ‘em off. I mean, c’mon. Jay Z? At The Fillmore? No fucking way. That cat sells-out arenas.
In fact, he already had, again, all over the country, and all in a matter of minutes. Yep, I’m talkin’ ‘bout “Heart of the City,” natch, which officially kicked off at the Triple A this past Saturday. 24-dates, 21 cities, in venues sized for 20,000 plus.
But last night it was just the Jigga, his band and 2500 of his most faithful fans.
Blasting out with “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” then segueing quickly into a barrage of tracks off American Gangster, Hova was low-slung, rock hard, crisp and on top of his game at all times. His rhymes ripped, his band slammed, and the man seemed genuinely pleased to be here. So pleased, in fact, that he wanted to keep his eyes on the prized crowd and repeatedly asked that the house lights come up so they could shine brightly on everyone.
Naturally all that shining only amplified the interaction, which is much of the point of live hip hop. But this went beyond simple call-and-response (though there was some of that), or a standard waving of the hands (though there was some of that too); no, this was the resound of a master who had a full house of fanatics serving as a choir.
And, of course, spitting along to every turn of Jay’s topsy-turvy phrasing. “I Just Wanna Love U (Give it 2 Me),” “Show Me What You Got,” and “99 Problems,” (which, by the way, mashed in and out of AC/DC’s “Back in Black”); “Roc Boys,” “Blue Magic,” and “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love),” (which, thank Zeus, finally put to rest that hoary Whitesnake cover), all followed to the syllable.
Adding to the resound was that band of players, who eschewed the usual stripped down tracking of the genre for a full-on funkified onslaught so solid even my hard heart got to skipping a beat. If you think that Menahan Street Band sample on “Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)” kicks? Try hearing it kicked live and tight.
I’ve gotta give credit to The Fillmore folk, who not only managed to plan, sell-out and stage one helluva show in less than six days, but to also give this veteran concert-goer one of the most rarefied experiences in his concert going life.
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Personal Bias: I dig going where few folk get to ever go.
Random Detail: Kittens outnumbered cats 2-to-1.
By the Way: You can put away your pen: I know Jay-Z did a string of Fillmore dates when American Gangster first dropped, but he didn’t do Miami Beach.
– John Hood