For all the reports of trouble in their marriage, Beyonce and Jay-Z’s joint On The Run II tour, which opened in Cardiff on Wednesday, was a two-and-half hour display of affection.
As they raced through more than 40 hits – from Crazy In Love to 99 Problems – the couple flirted, teased and held hands – not just when the spotlights were on, but deep in the shadows, between the songs.
The show didn’t shy away from Jay-Z’s infidelity, which was dissected on songs from Beyonce’s Lemonade album, and atoned for on his own 4:44, but the overall message was one of healing and redemption.
Stadium-width video screens showed images of the couple being torn apart and separated, their house on fire, before reuniting in a church and renewing their wedding vows.
“Endless love,” read a message on the screen. Jay-Z’s pendant put it more prosaically: “Bling for love.”
“Urgh,” you might be thinking, and rightly so, but the lovey-dovey stuff was just a backdrop to the night’s soundtrack: a thrilling joyride through the stars’ back catalogues that covered feminist anthems (Flawless); hip-hop classics (Dirt Off Your Shoulder) and the obligatory display of Beyonce’s vocal force (Resentment).
Jay-Z unexpectedly had more costume changes than his wife, who used one of his stage absences to address the #MeToo movement.
“Ladies, are we smart? Are we strong? Have we had enough?” she demanded during Sorry, before leading the audience in chant, the text of which is unprintable here.
By the end of the show, however, love was in the air again. As Beyonce performed her Ed Sheeran duet Perfect, home videos of the couple and their three children flashed up on the screens.
After holding hands throughout the song, Mr and Mrs Carter turned and held each other, eyes closed and oblivious for just a couple of seconds to the thousands of people watching them through their cameraphones.
Sure, it could have been staged but, for what it’s worth, the lingering tenderness of the embrace seemed too unvarnished to be rehearsed.
“Thank you guys for sharing this beautiful night with us,” said Beyonce as they walked away.
“It feels so good to be on stage with the one I love.”
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