Halloween night usually brings in the undead, but Jay-Z brought an audience to life on October 31st at Air Canada Centre.
Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter, was in Toronto as part of his tour promoting his new release The Blueprint 3. He was joined by N.E.R.D. and relative unknowns Wale and J.Cole. They performed to a sold out crowd which included Toronto rapper Kardinal Offishall.
The concert started off with newcomer J.Cole from North Carolina, singing two songs from his mixtape and website.
Next up was Washington, D.C. rapper Wale, who got the crowd pumped up with his set. He even sampled Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. He tried to motivate the crowd by declaring that “Calgary and Vancouver were louder than this.” The crowd responded in kind, uniting in a howl that surely drowned out Toronto’s sister cities.
N.E.R.D., featuring producer/singer Pharrell Williams, Shae and newcomer Rhea from Ajax, Ont., came out to the wild crowd. They played some of their classics and new songs from their forthcoming album Instant Gratification.
Williams got the “kind Canadian security guards” to bring some women on the stage while he played some hits, such as Snoop Dogg’s Drop It Like It’s Hot and Beautiful.
After a 10-minute countdown, Jay-Z took the stage with the curtains peeling open to expose the performer wearing a white mask which he later revealed was his Halloween costume.
The audience was with his performance throughout, waving hands, reciting lyrics to his songs and hanging on Jay-Z’s every word.
Special appearances by his long time collaborator Memphis Bleek and J. Cole on the song A Star is Born and others who helped him sing his other singles.
He sang popular songs such as Big Pimpin’ and Empire State of Mind, his anthem for his hometown New York City. The crowd was excited when Toronto native Drake came out to sing his chart-topper Successful.
Before ending his performance, Jay-Z highlighted the most recognizable audience members; including a clown he deemed “best Halloween costume of the night.” He also mentioned a sign with his lyrics from his first album “Jay-Z, you illuminate the whole show.”
He thanked the crowd and serenaded them with Young Forever before lowering below the stage for his exit.
The tour concluded its Canadian leg in Ottawa on Sunday.