Monday night Rogers Arena played host to the Vancouver stop of the 4:44 Tour. Despite rumours of poor tickets sales from local news websites, the building was packed with an all ages crowd. The rapper turned 48 years old last week, forging through the last two decades consistently producing critically acclaimed releases and maintaining pop culture relevance.
RocNation artist and Chi-Town native Vic Mensa got the spot to join him on the tour. A huge co-sign for the young artist by the label’s CEO. Mensa, joined some other greats in the Red Leather Jacket club with his choice of attire, which complimented the futuristic spaceship aesthetic created by the synth set-up and the light show.
Around 9:45 the lights dimmed and the stage began to mechanically transform, displaying visuals that felt similar to the videos Jay had dropped for tracks off the album. The screens began to rise revealing him as ‘Kill Jay-Z’ a cut from the new album began playing. Once the screens were raised 40 feet overhead he dropped into ‘No Church in the Wild’ and then a string of classics including Lucifer, D’Evils, Heart of the City and Run This Town before stopping to interact in his first of many short musings with the crowd.
He made a point to be inclusive letting the crowd know that everyone was welcome to his shows. The diverse audience was a testament to his ability to connect and invigorate. Even in his earlier work he never shied from introspection and emotion. We’ve always known him to tackle a dynamic range of topics and tonight was no different. He was dropping gems like ‘There’s no such thing as darkness, just absence of light’ woven between party anthems. He engaged us with thoughts on the importance of self belief and mental health while paying tribute to Chester from Linkin Park.
Jay made it look effortless for the full two plus hours he held down the arena, at times digging deep into his catalogue for songs from Reasonable Doubt & Vol 1. The show was meticulously produced from top to bottom with the setlist matching other cities the tour had previously visited. It was innovative, polished and in rhythm. One could only marvel at the futuristic rising stage, moving visuals, lighting and the band. The night ended with ‘Smile’ in which he raps ‘I bet before I go I put a billion on the board’. After delivering his best Vancouver performance in years and closing out the tour grossing 45 Million over the 32 dates, I believe him.
Written By: David Dalley