Jay-Z and Kanye West kicked off their highly anticipated “Watch the Throne” Tour in front of a sold-out crowd at the Philips Arena in Atlanta last Friday night.
According to several reviews, the show started almost 2 hours late, but once the lights dropped and the Hip-Hop titans took the stage, the crowd went “H.A.M” (just like the first song on the set list).
The “visually spectacular show,” as USA Today noted, took place on three separate stages: a T-shaped main stage where both performers entertained the crowd together, as well as two cube-shaped “mini-stages” strategically placed at each end of the arena where the rappers performed separately.
As far as the set list is concerned, we hear over 40 songs were performed, including all of their past and present hits (way too many to name, but the fans should know), as well as some of their new “Watch the Throne” tracks, like “Murder to Excellence,” “No Church in the Wild,” “Lift Off,” “Made in America,” “Otis” and the fan favorite “N**gas in Paris.”
After months and months of anticipation, did Jay-Z and Kanye West live up to the hype? Find out below:
MTV: Every time the crowd thought the two-hour-plus show was over, it wasn’t. First there was “N—as in Paris.” The track’s Will Farrell intro (“We’re gonna skate to one song and one song only”) brought on the moment that everyone was waiting for. As the Atlanta crowd bounced feverishly to the Hit Boy-produced single, Jay halted the proceedings midway: “Start that sh– over,” he barked as the Throne’s most-energetic selection of the night brought the crowd to an apex.
AJC: As the thumping backbeat to “H.A.M.” reverberated through the three-fourths full arena, the two titanic stars of this tour – Jay-Z and Kanye West – faced off from their respective cubes, which rose from the floor into towers of coolness. The pairing of these mega-rappers (aka Hova and Yeezy) is to hip-hop fans what the joint tours of Elton John and Billy Joel have been over the years to middle-aged suburbanites: Bliss. And while the opening night of the 32-date jaunt wasn’t without quibbles – lousy sound, a slightly bloated set list, video footage that sometimes seemed haphazardly assembled – the bottom line is that the guys unveiled a brisk, hits-filled show that was as exhausting to watch as it was entertaining.
XXL: The kings of hip-hop, Jay-Z and Kanye West, descended upon on Atlanta on Friday and Saturday nights to begin their Watch the Throne tour reign and the two couldn’t have been more regal during their performances (Saturday’s set was over two hours long and featured 42 songs). The Brooklyn boy was as sharp as ever, moving between stalwarts such as “Public Service Announcement” with the same ease as newer material like “No Church in the Wild.” ‘Ye, for his part, was typically impassioned, starting with a spark on “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” before ending with a spectacular rendition of “Illest Motherfucker Alive.”
All Hip Hop: After hearing months of hype about and finally hearing the now-classic album Watch The Throne, the concert had a lot to uphold with these monumental names. The “Watch The Throne” concert totally surpassed anything you would expect. From the 50 foot cubes, to the laser show and spectacular visuals, and in-and-out mini sets, the pair moved like a duo that has performed consistently for years.
Idolator: While there was virtually no way a concert featuring Jay-Z and Kanye West could ever be a dud, we have to say the duo lived up to our high expectations with last night’s kick-off of their Watch The Throne tour. The hip hop monarchs performed at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, with an epic set list that featured selections from each artist’s own behemoth catalog of hits as well as their Watch The Throne collaborations.
USA Today: The visually spectacular show took place on a main, T-shaped stage where both entertainers performed together, and also two cube-shaped mini-stages, one at each end of the arena, that rose and lowered. The two rappers performed separately on these cubes, which showed various images (a snarling pitbull, a swimming shark) at different points of the show. Fireballs the size of car tires shot from the floor toward the ceiling during some performances. Two large video screens stretched behind the main stage; a non-stop laser light show added to the oomph factor.
Both artists were onstage — first on those cubes, then on the main stage — for the opening segment of the show, performing songs from the new album, Welcome to the Jungle and Otis, among them. Then they each performed a number of their own hits, sometimes singly, sometimes together. The audience roared when they heard favorites like West’s Monster, Power, Touch the Sky and Gold Digger, and Jay-Z’s Dirt Off Your Shoulder, Big Pimpin’, Izzo (H.O.V.A.) and 99 Problems. “They’ve each had so many hits, I was interested to see how they would go back and forth,” said Tony Wheeler, 36, a Greenville, S.C., radio personality in town for the concert. “I thought they did a really nice job with that. You noticed how they would each do their own thing on some songs, then blend it back together?”