The first day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival featured a lot of traffic and I was one of the lucky ones included. After leaving the Daily Bulletin in Ontario at 3 p.m., I ran into highway headaches with traffic congestion and arrived in Indio at 5 p.m. to pick up my press badge at a nearby hotel.
Unfortunately, I was stuck on Jefferson Street (which you take to get to the Empire Polo Grounds to see the festival) until approximately 10:30 p.m. I was luckily able to get in and see Jay-Z about two or three songs in.
Mr. Sean Carter performed with a full band, DJ and his hype man Memphis Bleek. He stuck with his newer material including “Empire State of Mind” with Bridget Kelly (not Alicia Keys), a new singer/songwriter on Jay-Z’s record label Roc Nation. He also went through “99 Problems,” allowed Bleek to perform his hit “Is That Your Chick?” and performed a medley of some of his older songs including a couple of verses on “Where I’m From” and “Big Pimpin.'”
The largest reaction came when he had his wife Beyonce come out and perform “Young Forever,” which is off his current album “Blueprint 3.” They have great chemistry on stage but it is a little awkward when he introduces her as “Beyonce” (and never mentioned that she’s his wife).
“One more time B,” he told her before she sang another verse.
Nonetheless, their performance worked really well and the fireworks that shot off toward the end of the song was a nice touch.
His last song, appropriately enough, was “Encore.”
I saw Jay-Z in 1998 in Anaheim as part of the “Hard Knock Life” tour and while he has consistently given a good show but his stage presence and mannerisms have definitely improved.
For the record, I thought Redman and Method Man were much better live in 1998 but they also used a bungee cord entrance and it’s hard to top that. I also grew up listening to Redman and Method Man since their first albums so that played a part too. ‘
But Jay-Z had this great part of the show where he went from the center of the stage to the middle of the arena and I’ve never forgotten that.
I was able to briefly catch a glimpse of Public Image Ltd. before their set ended and John Lydon let everyone know what they missed.
“For all those that missed it, you missed it.”
That pretty much ended the night.