Watch The Throne Lives Up To the Hype In NJ

Watch The Throne
Jay-Z & Kanye West
Izod Center, East Rutherford, NJ
November 6, 2011

Wow.  I attended the Watch The Throne Tour stop in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday Night expecting to see a great concert.  Instead, what I witnessed was a magical moment where two performers took their music to heights where no Hip-Hop artist had every taken it.  The show literally made me say “wow” out loud multiple times. 

The show did not begin until approximately 9:15 p.m. and there was no opening act.  As the crowd sat in their seats with the lights on you saw a stage with raised platforms in an almost maze-like manner, with two other platforms shaped like squares, and at least six men on a hanging trapeze fixture with gigantic lights and cameras.  Yet, no one knew exactly what was going to come next.  As the lights went dim, the “Throne” instrumental music that is heard between each of the tracks on the actual Watch The Throne album could be heard.  And you could see Kanye West walk to the squared platform on the right and Jay-Z to the one on the left.  Surpringsly, the first song of the night was “H.A.M”, a bonus track on the new album.  No one seemed to mind as all of a sudden, the two squared platforms started to rise and within a minute the two superstars were on cubes thirty feet in the air trading verses filled with bravado and swagger.  

The astounding 40 song setlist was perfectly planned.  It was a constant and entertaining trade off between Jay-Z and Kanye.  They performed songs together and then separately, each with an even amount of stage time.  Jay-Z clearly got more love from the crowd, most likely because the show was so close to where he grew up.  That’s not to say Kanye did not get love because the crowd was cheering and dancing right along with him as well. 

The two stars traded verses on the raised cubes to “H.A.M.”, “Who Gon Stop Me”, and “Welcome To the Jungle”.  At one point the cubes pictured both pitbulls barking and then transformed into giant fish tanks with great white sharks swimming in them.  It was truly amazing to witness these effects.  Once they finished these three songs, the cubes came back down to their starting level and the lights went dark.  For the next three minutes, “Try A Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding played over the speakers and a huge American Flag was spread along the main stage.  The two came out and ripped into “Otis” and the crowd went wild.

What I really loved about the show was the interaction between the two.  They genuinely looked like they were having a great time.  They were smiling and even traded lyrics on each other’s singles.  For instance, Kanye sang the lyrics as the police officer in the second verse of “99 Problems” and Jay-Z helped Kanye out on “Gold Digger”. 

In fact, after Jay-Z did “Big Pimpin”, Kanye stated to the crowd “Jay-Z was my hero growing up and I always wanted to be like him. But every time I would try to live Big Pimpin, I couldn’t because ….” and the speakers broke right into the Jamie Foxx chorus of “Gold Digger”: “she take my money”. The two shared what looked like a lot of good laughs to their obviously rehearsed song set ups. 

Jay-Z was the most interactive with the crowd that I have ever seen him.  He strolled around the stage in his typical coolness and got the crowd to put their hands in the air and make the “Roc Diamond” in the sky multiple times throughout.  Kanye had a lot less interaction, but really showed a lot of emotion during his songs dancing like a maniac and giving it his all. 

All throughout the show, large amounts of pyrotechnics were used and the dual stages were utilized.  Kanye used the large platform on the left of the arena for a three song set highlighted by the effectious “Stronger”.  Most people seemed to take a bathroom break during the autotuned “Heartless”.  I could have done without that fairly lackluster tune. 

I really enjoyed their rendition of “Diamonds From Sierra Leon” and “Monster”, two songs from Kanye’s past solo albums.  The two have a natural showmanship and do things so differently, yet the combination at the same time is an amazing transformation.  Kanye is self absorbed rapper, dressed in a leather kilt; Jay-Z is the crowd pleaser dressed simply in his trademark Yankee hat, black shirt and jeans.  They are so different, but somehow when they blend their styles, sure genuis is the result. 

Another great moment was when the two slowed things down and sat next to each other on the stage.  They rapped to “New Day” and “Hard Knock Life” while sitting down as if they were just old friends sharing a moment.  It came across as genuine and really showcased the real love they have for each other.

Three of the last four songs played was their latest #1 on the Billboard Charts, “****** In Paris”.  When the clip of Will Ferrel from his movie “Blades of Glory” came on, the energy in the building amplified to a ridiculous level.  The two blasted into the song and the crowd responded by jumping up and down.  The entire building was shaking, it was truly a sight to behold.  They finished the song once and Jay-Z stated “**** it, let’s do again” and they went right back to it. 

The two left the stage for a brief minute and came back out for an encore.  They went right back to “Paris” and no one in the building seemed to mind.  They finished their masterpiece with Jay-Z’s “Encore” and the crowd was heard chanting “Hova, Hova Hova …” on repeat in honor of the superstar.  They finished up with Jay-Z thanking the crowd and walked off together into the dark. 

While most of the concert was absolutely brilliant, there were a few minor things that were a bit strange.  First, was Kanye’s choice of clothing.  At first he was wearing a t-shirt with his face on it, a leather kilt, leather tights, and basketball sneakers.  He then changed halfway through into an atrocious sweater, yet decided to keep the kilt on.  Also, there were images on the two giant HD screens that were confusing.  At one point there was a police chase where police cars were getting blown up and crashed into.  Then duing “No Church In the Wild”, there were images of the Klu Klux Klan – quite disturbing. 

But all in all, out of the 200 plus concerts that I have attending in my lifetime, this one ranks up there in the top few.  The stage design, the pyrotechnics, the setlist, and special effects all lived up to the hype that “Watch The Throne” has been receiving.  I cannot wait until I see their show at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night.  All I can say is wow. 


  1. H.A.M. 
  2. Who Gon Stop Me
  3. Otis
  4. Welcome To the Jungle
  5. Gotta Have It
  6. Where I’m From
  7. Jigga What, Jigga Who
  8. Can’t Tell Me Nothing
  9. Flashing Lights
  10. Jesus Walks
  11. Diamonds From Sierra Leone Remix
  12. Public Service Announcement
  13. U Don’t Know
  14. Run This Town
  15. Monster
  16. Power
  17. New Day
  18. Hard Knock Life
  19. H to the Izzo
  20. Empire State of Mind
  21. Runaway
  22. Heartless
  23. Stronger
  24. On To the Next One
  25. Dirt Off My Shoulder
  26. I Just Wanna Love You
  27. That’s My B****
  28. Good Life
  29. Touch The Sky
  30. All Of The Lights
  31. Big Pimpin’
  32. Gold Digger
  33. 99 Problems
  34. What A Wonderful World
  35. No Church in the Wild
  36. Lift Off
  37. ****** In Paris
  38. ****** In Paris
  39. ****** In Paris
  40. Encore



Who Gon Stop Me

****** In Paris
U Don’t Know
On To The Next One
Jigga What, Jigga Who
Diamonds Remix
99 Problems
H To the Izzo
Empire State of Mind

Jay-Z and Rihanna: Full of Surprises in New Jersey

Izod Center
East Rutherford, New Jersey

The Loud Tour was turned up a few levels from its usual decible meter at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey on July 21st, 2011.  This wasn’t because Rihanna had another eye-dropping wardrobe change or because she ran through the aisles of the crowd for the third time that night. No,t his was a much bigger “Concert Event” moment. 

During the few minutes after the last song of her set “Take a Bow”, fans observed a cop car pull up to the right side of stage in the backstage area.  The most observent fans, one of which happened to be my wife, could also hear a faint microphone check.  It was a male’s voice who simply made the noise “uh-huh uh-huh”.  I did not believe her when she said she heard that as I did not want to set my hopes up.  Of course, she was eluding to the fact that she thought Jay-Z was doing a mic check.  Much to my suprise, she was indeed correct. 

Rihanna came out of her encore to large flames on the giant screens behind her.  She sang only the chorus to her song with Eminem “Love the Way You Lie”.  She walked a few feet forward, stopped, and froze.  All of a sudden, a figure arose from a circular platform underneath the stage.  The man stood still, facing down, and was wearing a Yankees hat pulled down low over his eyes.  But everyone in the building knew exactly who it was and the place erupted. 

Jay-Z is arguably the greatest rapper of all time.  I certainly make the argument that he is.  No one has had more longevity in the Hip-Hop/Rap Genre.  He came out with his first cd back in 1995 has sold approximately 50 million records worldwide, and has eleven #1 records (the most of any artist, in any genre, all time).  After arising from the stage and standing still looking down for approximately ten seconds, you could feel that everyone in the IZOD Center that night felt the same appreciation for him, that I have.  The applause and screams were deafening.  He and Rihanna then put their hands in the air and made the diamond symbol that fans know as the “Roc” symbol.  The crowd responded in doing the same. 

Jay-Z and Rihanna then performed their mega-hit “Run This Town” together.  Rihanna looked to be as big of a fan of Jay-Z’s as everyone else in the building as she was all smiles while running around in admiration of her mentor.   Jay-Z’s smooth rapping style and vintage moves were in full effect as they executed the song flawlessly. 

Of course, everyone knew that this appearance would not be limited to one song.  After all, Rihanna’s first hit “Umbrella” was another song featuring Jay-Z.  They broke right into that song after “Run This Town” and everyone sang along with their camera’s flashing and their hands in the symbols of diamonds.  Jay-Z quickly exited upon finishing his verse and left Rihanna on stage alone to finish out her song. 

Rihanna’s performance pre-Jay-Z was a mixed bag for me.  The good: she had a lot of energy, a multitude of extravagant costume changes,  and high level production.  The bad: she seemed to be lip singing at times and I was confused by the background dancers in various songs (including men dressed as robots who destroyed a car on stage at one point).  

Overall, it was an entertaining and fun show.  She did not have much interaction with the crowd between songs other than statements such as “What’s up Jersey”, which she said over and over again, and also “Get Your F****ing Hands Up”, which was not necessary since there were so many children in the crowd.  She was at her best on her more sensitive and slower songs, when she was dressed in a very impressive yellow gown. 

She also ran through the crowd a few times which gave the fans quite the treat.  She even stopped at the back end of the floor opposite the stage to bang on a drum at one point.  It was a bit cheesy, but no one seemed to mind.  For me, that seemed to be the theme of the night (until Jay-Z showed up), it was colorful, fun, and sort of cheesy, yet everyone was having a good time.

But in the end, as much as Rihanna put forth her best efforts, Jay-Z upstaged her.  I do not think she minded at all as she owes a lot of her career to him.  In the end, it was a great surprise and left everyone in the building more than satisfied.  Uh-huh, uh-huh.


Rihanna Setlist:

1. Only Girl In the World
2. Disturbia
3. Shut Up and Drive
4. Man Down
5. Darling Nikki
6. S&M
7. Let Me
8. Skin
9. Raining Men
10. Hard
11. Breaking Dishes
12. Live Your Life
13. Unfaithful
14. California King Bed
15. Pon de Replay
16. What’s My Name
17. Rude Boy
18. Cheers
19. Don’t Stop The Music
20. Take A Bow

21. Love The Way You Lie (chorus only)
22. Run This Town with special guest: Jay-Z
23. Umbrella with special guest: Jay-Z