Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake kicked off their Legends of the Summer tour last night (17) at Toronto’s Rogers Centre to a generally positive slate of reviews, especially praising the pair’s enthusiasm and integration of their material. Here’s a round-up of what the critics had to say:
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USA Today’s Celine Wong: "After opening the show together, the duo has found a new rhythm with one performing alone for a song or two and then handing it off to another. It keeps the beginning of the show moving at a frantic pace and is a testament to their deep catalog of hits."
Billboard's Karen Bliss: "As rehearsed and planned-out as the show no doubt is — how to integrate their material, when to perform solo and when to come together, all the while utilizing their crack 14-piece soul/rockband — the two-and-a-half-hour set was smooth and fun and playful and didn’t have that air of my-turn, your-turn. It just seemed natural, almost off the cuff in places, which can happen when a guy can rap and a guy can sing...Jay Z has always been a masterful rapper, but what Timberlake displayed throughout the night was just how musical he is. His past concerts have so many dancers bounding this way and that, and him joining them, that it’s distracting and takes away from his significant talents: his ability to deliver his soulful and grinding pop tunes as the frontman of an expert band and highlight his own musicianship, playing upright piano, keyboards and electric and acoustic guitar— which he did on some of his songs and some of Jay Z’s."
Toronto Star’s Ben Rayner: "It was an indisputably badass night out, regardless: mammoth hit after mammoth hit after mammoth hit delivered with deserved, cocksure swagger amidst insane production values.
Rather than engaging in the one-upmanship that might result from splitting the bill, Js “T” and “Z” opted — as Jay-Z did on his 2011 Watch the Throne tour with Kanye West — to present the night as a chummy back-and-forth that integrated and expanded upon the numerous, overlapping collaborations in their catalogues...The multi-tasking Timberlake also sat in on keyboards with the deft, 14-piece backing band arrayed up and down the four-tier, LED-blazed stage from time to time, even strapping on an acoustic guitar for “Like I Love You” and later an electric to drop the riff from Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” into a gargantuan assault on Jay-Z’s “99 Problems.” Yngwie Malmsteen he ain’t, but if we were to view the night as a contest, it was probably his to take."
Exclaim.ca’s Stephen Carlick: “The medleys, of which there would be plenty, were novel at first, but they quickly wore thin; tracks that should have received full-track treatment felt rushed, while the transitions often felt clunky and ill-conceived...Problems with set list construction persisted throughout the show: Timberlake's epic "Lovestoned/I Think She Knows," of which fully half was cut in order to hurry to the next song, built up momentum by getting the entire floor area dancing only to be followed by a full-length iteration of the dragging "Until the End of Time"...It was Timberlake's show. Jay's trilogy of "99 Problems," "Public Service Announcement" and "Hard Knock Life" was the best song run of the night, but it was Timberlake's ability to control the crowd, and his animation onstage, that made him the clear crowd favourite, and his performances of songs like "Cry Me a River" and "What Goes Around... Comes Around" were head and shoulders above most of Jay's."
Idolator’s Adam Pyarali: "As opposed to performing two separate sets, Jay-Z and JT performed a combined list of 39 songs, similar to Jay-Z’s Watch The Throne Tour with Kanye West; the two stars took turns switching off amongst their own material and often duetting. The pair performed their new material but also hit iconic older cuts like Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’” and “99 Problems,” and JT’s “Rock Your Body” and “Cry Me A River,” to appease both old and new fans. The show ended with an unexpected but touching tribute to Trayvon Martin, as the “legends” performed Jay-Z’s 2010 hit 'Young Forever.'"
SET LIST (h/t USA Today)
I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)
Rock Your Body
Excuse Me Miss
On to the Next One
Like I Love You
Jigga What Jigga Who (Originator '99)
U Don't Know
99 Problems / Walk This Way
Bonnie & Clyde
Public Service Announcement (Interlude)
Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)
Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)
Pusher Love Girl
Until the End of Time
Let the Groove Get In
Take Back the Night
Cry Me a River
What Goes Around … Comes Around
New York New York / Empire State of Mind
Run This Town
Suit & Tie
Forever Young / Young Forever