LIVE: Jay-Z @ The Roundhouse

Dropout Almost Missed It!

By Thursday midday we had sort of given up hope of getting press passes for the most talked about gig of the past few months (Lesson of the day: Never rely on a next man to handle your business). We had applied a little (a lot) too late. Plans were even in motion to hustle a review off one of our freelancers… Imagine! Until I got the message that we had hustled two non-press tickets to see Jay Z at The Roundhouse, Camden. Sweet! I’ll be lying if I said it didn’t feel a little weird to be demoted to ‘consumer’ for the evening but as our friend Diddy aka Puffy aka Seans Combs once said, ‘Can’t know body take my crown, can’t nobody hold me down, oh no! I’ve got to keep on moving…’ We surely did keep it moving.

It was Jay-Z mania in Camden last night as lucky ticket holders for the sold out show, queued to watch the record-breaking rapper perform. ROC signs were being thrown up in the air in the queue by Rocawear wearing ladies, whilst BluePrint 3 flags and billboards were waved about outside the music venue. It looked more like a political rally! All for a guy from Marcy Projects, Bedford-Stuyvesant.

With no supporting acts, the crowd, which I must say was a very multi-cultural one - mainly full of people I don't expect were fans of the Jigga man before Glastonbury, or his collaborations with other music acts such as Coldplay, Linkin' Park, Rihanna and Kanye West - waited for nearly two and a half hours before Jay-Z appeared on stage. Normally when waiting hours for an act, the crowd becomes restless.... But not in this instance!

Ten minutes before Jay-Z was to appear on stage, a countdown timer appeared on the huge screen, followed by a deafening cheer by the crowd. As the timer got to 0:10, the crowd started to countdown the beginning of the show, which kind of reminded me of New Years Eve, and at 0:00 the live band dropped the beat for 'Death Of Autotune' and Jigga himself appeared. The hyped crowed rocked their heads to the beat whilst throwing up the diamond ROC sign rapping along with Jay to the beat.

"Ya'll are pretty quick with your fingers... I heard this show sold out in two and a half seconds!" Jay-Z said to the frenzied crowd, which lead to everyone in the building chanting 'HOVA! HOVA!'. With hype man Memphis Bleek, Jay rocked the Roundhouse dropping classsic hits one after the other such as 'Heart Of The City', 'ROC Boys', 'I Just Wanna Love U' and 'Jigga What, Jigga Who'. He even had the crowd singing along to the Oasis classic 'Wonderwall'!

The intimate atmosphere within the usually indie/rock venue ensured that he had the entire audience in a trance, hanging on his every word, or ‘bar’ to be precise. The New York rapper also dropped his number 1 UK single, 'Run This Town' - sans Rihanna and Kanye - and also the best track (in my opinion) on BluePrint3, 'Empire State Of Mind', which sounded great even without Alicia Keys' soulful voice, who, in this instance, was replaced by a fellow New Yorker who Jay-Z has recently signed to Roc Nation by the name of Bridget Kelly (expect a feature shortly) who graced the stage with Jay.

I think Jay should've performed a few more tracks from the album, especially 'Thank You', but I guess he wants to save all of that for his world tour, which he'll embark upon after a few more single releases from BluePrint 3. Wouldn't have minded if some Reasonable Doubt classics were thrown in either.

Not many new skool rappers can work a stage, but I must say Jay definitely doesn't fall into that category. I was fully entertained. From a press, consumer, blogger and even the barman's perspective, the concert was great, mind you I wouldn't expect anything else from somebody at the top; top of the album charts, top of the singles chart and top of the list as one of the G.O.A.Ts.

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