To Run To or To Run Away, It’s Up to You

To Run To or To Run Away, It’s Up to You

On Beyoncé & Jay-Z’s Winnipeg OTR Tour

Studio-album-wise, I enjoy listening to various genres of music—be it a 30-minute symphony, a 15-minute Dream Theater song, a three-minute Pop song, or an ear-piercing Death Metal sonic poison. After all, when listening to albums, my only requirement is a good studio-recording production. During live performances, however, I add a few more points of criteria—appropriateness of the venue, stage presentation, visual appearance of the performers, and most of all, the instrumental presentation of the music itself plus the quality of the sound system used.

Concert Review

That is the reason I did not enjoy the Beyoncé/Jay-Z On the Run Tour that was held at Investors Group Field last July 27. I just couldn’t feel the musical energy in the large open-field football stadium. No backing band. Only pre-recorded music. And a group of dancers who had issues with synchronicity.

However, if you’re the type who is okay with a concert that involves only the artists’ singing along a backtrack of the music (literally no backup musicians/instrumentalists) and a small group of dancers, then you would enjoy the Beyoncé/Jay-Z gig. To me though, it’s just like an arena version of a dance club that plays technobass-heavy piped-in music to engage the crowd to dancing and a bit of singing along. If you’re expecting an organic, well-presented performance whose focus is the whole musicality and not just the bass-thumping sound, then you would be disappointed.

Not that I don’t like R&B/Hip-hop music, but I simply could not feel the musical energy in the big venue without the reinforcement of any live instrument. Maybe, it would have made a difference if the concert was held at an enclosed dome such as MTS Centre. Because, I think that, soundwise, open arenas or stadiums are for live bands; they are not conducive to karaoke-style performances, in which the singers are merely singing over a piped-in background music that starts to rumble when played in high volume.

But, in fairness, I could not generally dismiss the concert as lackluster because that would invalidate the excitement and energy of the hundreds of fellow attendees who danced, waved their hands, and applauded to perhaps every song on the couple’s setlist.

But still, I’ve seen Pop concerts that fared much better in terms of musical performance and stage production—as examples, Taylor Swift’s Red Tour and P!nk’s Truth about Love Tour, both of which showcased live backup musicians who gave the show extra punch and kick. Or maybe Hip-hop proper does not really require live instrumentalists. But no, there have been Hip-hop artists who employed live musicians to back them up especially during big concerts such as Kanye West, Outkast, and Missy Elliott.

The Artists

Born on September 4, 1981, in Texas, United States, Beyoncé (Giselle Knowles-Carter) is an American R&B/Hip-hop singer. She started her professional singing career as the lead singer of the R&B girl group Destiny’s Child, which had five studio albums to their credit: Destiny’s Child (1998), Survivor (1999), Survivor (2001), 8 Days of Christmas (2001), and Destiny Fulfilled (2004). In 2001, the group went on a hiatus, to give way to the members’ respective solo careers. Beyoncé has been the most successful among the lot. She has released five albums: Dangerously in Love (2003), B’Day (2006), I Am… Sasha Fierce (2008), 4 (2011), and Beyoncé (2013). Recommended songs are “Crazy in Love,” “Naughty Girl,” “Me, Myself and I,” “Déjà Vu,” “Ring the Alarm,” “Irreplaceable,” “If I Were a Boy,” “Halo,” “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” “Best Thing I Never Had,” “Party,” “End of Time,” “Pretty Hurts,” “Drunk in Love,” and “Flawless.”

Jay-Z, on the other hand, is an American R&B/Hip-hop singer/rapper and record producer. He has 12 studio albums to his name as a solo artist, from 1996’s Reasonable Doubt to 2013’s Magna Carta Holy Grail.

Final Note

At the end of the review, the beauty or the lackluster of a concert (or any event, for that matter) will depend on what the attendee is expecting or looking for. As far as I’m concerned, I always provide two opposing perspectives—the reason one might enjoy a concert and the reason one might not like it. And I’m also vocal enough to express my personal view based on my tastes and expectations.

Photos by Robin Harper/Parkwood Entertainment/PictureGroup