Impatience rippled through a rowdy audience in North Carolina on Sunday night (October 30) before a smiling Jay-Z stepped out onto the dimly lit stage, clothed in all-black-everything. After performing two shows in Atlanta on the previous nights, The Throne had migrated further north. As Jay bobbed his head to Kanye West’s opening verse on “H.A.M.” the crowd instantly forget that they’d been squirming in their seats for the past two hours. The Lex Luger-produced single was the perfect start to a captivating show.
Jay stood on a platform in the center of the venue (opposite of the main stage), which slowly began to rise out of the floor as he broke into his first verse. Almost out of nowhere, Kanye West appeared opposite of him on the main stage, standing on a tower of equal height. Though the setup was appropriate for a lyrical duel, the two complemented each other’s verses. After “H.A.M.,” The Throne transitioned to “Who Gon Stop Me,” trading bars from their elevated platforms, while various images of growling dogs and burning buildings flashed on the screens below them.
Next, the lights faded away completely, a flag appeared onstage and an Otis Redding sample hinted what was about to follow. “Sounds so soulful, don’t you agree?” Jay asks the cheering crowd. The Throne’s catalog continued with “Welcome To The Jungle,” and the end of which Jay and Kanye turned to observe a raging cheetah devouring a gazelle on the big screen. At this point it becomes apparent that Ye is wearing a leather kilt, with tight leather pants beneath.
As the visuals disappear, Kanye exists the stage leaving Hov to do a solo performance of “Jigga What, Jigga Who.” The hunger that emanated from Jay was unparallelled; fifteen years later he still exudes the same passion of a 16-year-old boy with a vision. From this point forward Jay and Yeezy continued to interchange sets, performing solo tracks like “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and “Empire State of Mind” as well as a joint remix of “Diamonds Are Forever.” During the Frank Ocean-assisted “Made It In America,” images of burning crosses, street riots, Martin Luther King Jr. and the KKK continue to flash on the large screens behind them.
For WTT’s most sentimental number “New Day,” The Throne takes a seat and Ye spits his verse with his eyes closed is if to contain some of the emotion. “This is my favorite song on the album,” he shares, as the piano chords resonate in the coliseum. Though Jay-Z offered the crowd a slew of classic material, the emotional aspect of Ye’s performances were so infectious and relatable that they were inevitably more memorable.
As “Runaway” begins to play Ye repeats the hook a few times, getting emotional. “Love gets hard sometimes, but do me a favor—if you love someone tonight, hold on real tight,” he said, proceeding to sing the song’s opening line repeatedly. “You can always find something wrong, cause that’s what I did,” Yeezy continued. “I thought you’d always be mine. If I said I didn’t love you I’d be lying.” Concertgoers were left wondering who Kanye was referring to—his former fiance Alexis Phifer, or his ex-girlfriend Amber Rose.
After a few more Watch The Throne cuts that included “No Church In The Wild” and “Lift Off,” the crowd is finally treated to the long awaited performance of “Ni–as In Paris.” The duo performed this twice, closing out the show— or at least, so we thought—with a fade to darkness, while throwing up the Roc sign. Then, after a few seconds of darkness, the two reappear going back into a performance of “Ni–gas In Paris.” “Thank you, thank you—you’re far too kind,” Jay says to the crowd, as horns fill the air and Ye joines him for the actual closing track, “Encore.”