Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne tour played its second show in Manchester and proved they are a force to be reckoned with together and in their own right as hip-hop giants.
The feverish anticipation for the sell out show was reflected in the atmosphere on the floor of the arena with thousands eagerly awaiting the arrival of the unconquerable duo.
Their solo album has gone further than the original hype, securing a Grammy, breaking the iTunes store’s one week sales record and silencing many critics.
The elaborate and innovative stage design was split between the front of the arena, but also boasting an illuminated platform, set back amongst the middle of the crowd.
Both rappers burst out at separate ends of the arena to H.A.M and were elevated on the huge, luminous cubes, for a lyrical trade-off of mammoth proportions.
Visually overloaded with lasers and moving graphics of panthers, sharks and Wolves, fans were torn over which superstar to rap-along with.
Otis Redding’s ‘Try a little Tenderness’, set against an American flag backdrop propped up Otis to full force asking the crowd, what would Hova do? and was followed by ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and ‘Gotta have it’ signalling a temporary hiatus to the Watch the Throne track-list.
Jay-Z reminded the audience of his individual prowess kicking off with ‘Where I’m From’ and ‘Jigga What, Jigga Who’ and went on to dominate proceedings with ‘Empire State of Mind,’ ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A) and ‘I Just Wanna Love You, amongst others from his swaggering, powerful back catalogue.
Kanye too, proved his worth performing ‘Diamonds from Sierra Leone,’ ‘Flashing Lights’ and ‘Gold Digger’ but a performance of ‘Runaway’ and ‘Heartless’ saw him sinking into his notorious egotistical ways.
Dressed head to toe in sweat and leather, West’s prolonged Auto-tune left many longing for Jay-Z to regain control of the driving seat.
Jay dominated the show, sporting a black leather cap featuring the logo of his new Brooklyn Nets NBA basketball team, his deft flow and innate sense of the audience and their emotions leading the way forward.
Although the tour was named after their collaborative album, both rappers slipped into dueting on each other’s solo efforts with great ease – perhaps most evident in Jay-Z’s ’99 Problems.’
With ‘Touch the Sky’ and ‘All of the Lights,’ Kanye managed to get the crowd back on side and ‘Monster’ proved to be one of the highlights of the set.
‘No Church in the Wild’ brought the set to an end, and with the newly released video playing behind the stage, added a strong political and philosophical element to the mix.
Throughout the set, there was an air of anticipation for the instantly recognisable beats of ‘Niggas in Paris’ and the crowd went wild when it was finally played.
An encore saw the song played four more times (a little overkill, after such a diverse three-hour set) and Jay-Z instructed the standing crows to create a sizeable mosh-pit at the front, summing up exactly why these two are at the top of their game.
Kanye and Jay Z photos by Andy Watson
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