They’ve performed here before, but never like this. Never together. Never sharing the stage with someone else as famous as they are (or almost, anyway). And aside from her “Lemonade” tour stop in 2016, never with as much personal baggage on display for 40,000 fans to examine.
Fortunately, Wednesday night’s mega-big, plan-the-summer-around-it concert at U.S. Bank Stadium was not the same kind of show we've already seen Beyoncé and Jay-Z deliver separately in the Twin Cities.
She lost some of the precision, cohesion and all-out wow factor of her 2016 tour, but she seemed looser and more playful. He ditched his aloofness and gained more showmanship and cocksure bravado — even as he spent a few songs groveling and showing off a more tender side.
Minneapolis fell about halfway through the superstar couple’s 36-stop On the Run II Tour, which is hitting stadiums on both sides of the Atlantic. Three of the trek’s U.S. shows are in new football stadiums, two of which are already known to have poor acoustics for concerts.
U.S. Bank Stadium’s bad reputation might partly explain why — even with one of the biggest hip-hop hitmakers of all time — the show basically drew the same size crowd as when Bey performed on her own at TCF Bank Stadium in 2016. Then again, some of her fans maybe didn’t want to see her with her hubby, whose purported infidelity was central on her “Lemonade” album and his latest, “4:44.”
That marital drama played out in spurts in Wednesday’s nearly 2½-hour performance, starting right out of the gate.
After riding an elevator down the middle of their four-story video screen and massive stage, the couple faced each other in matching bridal-white attire and delivered alternating parts in his track “Holy Grail” — her singing “I don’t know why our love is so much,” and him rapping, “Why you mad? Take the good with the bad.” It was the first of many such moments that would make a great scene in a Lifetime TV drama.
The duo alternated in the lead role through their respective solo hits from there, but neither left the stage for very long. He popped up to add lines to her slow-burning version of “Drunk in Love,” which could’ve melted what’s left of the polar caps. She hung around to lead the troupe of dancers through his tough chest-beater “Clique.”
All told, they tore through more than 40 songs. Only three came off their new duo album “Everything Is Love,” issued as the Carters (his real name is Shawn Carter). In “Nice,” the spouses looked like they were having a blast trading verses, especially as she showed off her hard-spitting rapper skills.
The middle of the show featured some of the biggest, splashiest productions of the night, including sprawling dance routines in her older hits “Baby Boy” and “Countdown.” During the brightly lit, hands-up Carter track “Black Effect,” the 20-or-so-member backing band could be seen spread across the three-story scaffolding above the stage. Because apparently there was no room for them on the 200-plus-foot regular stage.
As big as the show felt, the most remarkable moments were the smaller and more intimate ones. Like when she softly, solitarily crooned out, “Better call Becky with the good hair” (a line purportedly about his mistress). Or when he sheepishly walked out after her done-wrong tunes “I Care” and “Don’t Hurt Yourself” — the latter just hair-raising — to saunter through his surprisingly overt apology song, “Song Cry.”
Standing still clutching his mike stand under dark lights, he slowly but clearly intoned, “I can’t let you know it / Pride won’t let me show it / Pretend to be heroic / But deep inside [I’m] so sick.”
Whether the audience bought his lines — the song did earn a sizable cheer — fans did seem to buy the united front. And the mostly $200-plus tickets they bought did provide a lot of bang for their buck in the end. The last half-hour of the set was a cavalcade of chart-topping hits, including “Run the World (Girls),” “Show Me What You Got” and “Crazy in Love.” It might sound crazy, but love really was all around by show's end.