Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Notes from last night's big show, Power 105.1 Powerhouse. (Thanks for the hookup, Clear Channel!)

- The whole point of this Jay-Z/Lil Wayne co-headlining show, I thought, was that Jay and Wayne were supposed to appear onstage together and do a couple of songs. It didn't happen that way. Wayne had no-showed in Boston the night before, and I guess Jay was still salty about it. Their sets never overlapped, and Jay never even mentioned Wayne.

- Wayne still did "Mr. Carter." Opened with it, even. Everyone seemed really excited until Jay didn't show.

- I'd like to thank New Jersey Transit for canceling the buses they used to run between Port Authority and the Meadowlands. You guys are right: You were making it way too easy to get between the city and Jersey. Way better to wait out on a freezing-ass train platform for half an hour instead and then take that to another bus. It makes the whole thing mean that much more when you have to work for it. Also: Thanks for making me miss D-Block and most of Ne-Yo. That was awesome.

- Ne-Yo can dance! I don't know why that guy always brings backup dancers with him. They just kinda clutter up the stage, and he doesn't need them. "Closer" sounded amazing.

- Wayne basically sucked. And it's not even that he's a bad performer, though he was really obviously high and he slurred the hell out of a lot of his lines. He's got charisma, and it's a whole lot of fun to watch him careen all haphazardly around the stage. But he's a huge star now, and he's not ready to be one, at least not onstage. He's going on this big tour now apparently, but he doesn't have the focus to do the kind of greatest-hits show that Jay does or the conceptual rigor to pull off something like Kanye's Glow in the Dark tour. He's probably just going to seriously halfass it.

- For some reason Wayne thought it would be a good idea to bring a live band. It wasn't. Jay can do that stuff, especially now that he's been touring with one band for long enough and they've got it down to a science. Wayne can't. For one thing, his songs mostly aren't all lushly orchestrated the way Jay's are. For another, that whole setup just encourages all his worst impulses, like spending a good third of his set displaying his eighth-grade-level guitar skills.

- And even if Wayne was going to bring a band, why did he bring this band? These fuckbags ruined a whole lot of songs just by soloing all over them for no reason. "A Milli" sounded awesome until the guitarist started soloing and Wayne started (seriously) singing N.E.R.D. songs. Why would you solo over "A Milli"? What the fuck are you hoping to accomplish there?

- Wayne's big surprise guests: Bobby Valentino and Birdman. Oh, and Mac Maine, who ran out on "Got Money" so everyone thought he was T-Pain for a second. Doesn't Wayne have any friends in New York? Did he accidentally delete Juelz's number or something?

- The whole anything-can-happen looseness of Wayne's Summer Jam set is just gone. Last night it felt really conscripted, like he'd rehearsed the set just enough that it wouldn't have any surprises but not enough that he'd actually be good at it. It still had its moments ("I'm Me," "Money on My Mind"), and I'll always enjoy watching Wayne strut offstage to "I Will Always Love You," but this was not a good set.

- Jay, by contrast, just ruled. I wasn't even really all that amped to see him, since I've seen him a ton of times and he was just on autopilot last time, but holy shit he monstered it last night. Maybe he had something to prove.

- Jay and his band have that set down perfectly now. Even the songs that you wouldn't think a live band could pull off ("Jigga What Jigga Who," "Blue Magic") sounded incredible, and there are no gaps between songs now. He just goes. It's all planned out perfectly, and it's really something to behold. I'm guessing that's why Jay didn't bring out any guests beyond Beyonce, who did the dance from the "Single Ladies" video for a minute and then disappeared. I think Jay's just got his show's flow down so completely that he didn't want anyone else interrupting it.

- Opening with "U Don't Know": a good look.

- Why doesn't Jay do "Lucifer" at every show? I'd never seen him do it before last night, but people love that song, and it was a total highlight.

- Is it OK that I was happy to see DJ AM even though I think he's basically the cheesiest dude in the world? That guy almost burned alive a month ago, and now he's onstage with Jay-Z looking so happy he could explode. This makes me happy. (Also, AM was in Crazy Town, and "Butterfly" is a good song. [It's a good song, assholes.] So he's got that going for him.)

- Lots and lots of Obama talk. Jay did this thing where he stopped "Blue Magic" on the "Fuck Bush" part, then did a verse from "Minority Report" a cappella, then endorsed Obama. And I'd seen him do the same thing at the last show, but I still got chills all over again. Plus this time he went straight from that into "P.S.A.," which, I mean, come on.