Even when the power goes out, Jay Z proves he still runs this town - Omaha.com
go logo
article photo
article photo
Jay Z performs Sunday at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.(CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD)

Even when the power goes out, Jay Z proves he still runs this town
By Kevin Coffey / World-Herald bureau

Photo gallery: Jay Z performs at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln

* * * * *

LINCOLN — He had them as soon as he threw up the diamond.

During his first song on Sunday, Jay Z made his signature hand gesture — a diamond formed by spreading his forefinger and thumb apart on each hand and touching this fingers together — and the thousands at Pinnacle Bank Arena followed suit.

They remained in his sway for the next two hours, even when the power went out onstage.

"Nebraska, what's up?" asked the rapper, born Shawn Carter, while his fans welcomed him to the state for the first time. "Finally!"

For the 90 minutes he was onstage Sunday night, Jay Z could do no wrong in then eyes of the 10,000 or so gathered at the arena.

All together, they sang Justin Timberlake's parts in "Holy Grail" and finished the lines in Jay Z's "99 Problems." One woman even rapped "Beach is Better" word-for-word while Mr. Carter, clad all in black with a huge gold chain, faced her and rapped it right along with her. He finished the song with a big grin on his face.

"This is my first time here and I'm really feeling at home," he said. "I really appreciate it."

It was a great set that sampled from the breadth of his career as well as about half of his latest record, "Magna Carta... Holy Grail."

Songs such as "99 Problems" and "Empire State of Mind" are so well-known that they made for the bet parts of the show. Jay Z could have probably sat back and let the audience shout his parts, but he cleared his throat and threw himself into the songs.

Another highlight was a quick interlude where Timbaland, the renowned producer and rapper who acted as Jay Z's DJ for the night, assumed the lead role while Jay Z took a break. He beatboxed, slung samples together and even rapped a couple verses from his new track, "Know Bout Me." It was a nice surprise in the middle of the show.

Speaking of surprises, the show's only hiccup was a 40-minute gap in Jay Z's set caused by some kind of technical difficulty. Less than 10 seconds into "N****s in Paris," the song completely stopped. Shortly thereafter, Jay Z and his four-man backing band were escorted from the stage.

Though the lights stayed on in the arena, Jay Z later alluded to some kind of power failure. Fans used the time for bathroom and beer breaks while others chanted Jay Z's nickname: "Hova! Hova! Hova!"

When the show finally resumed, Jay Z apologized.

"Nebraska, you still there tonight?" He said. "We ain't gonna let no power stop us tonight. Let's try this again. Hands in the air!"

He kicked into "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" and then resumed "N****s In Paris," and then finished the show with only skipping one song he had been performing in other cities. The unfortunate break happened near the end of Jay Z's set, and it was actually the best possible timing for a break since he came back out swinging with some of his biggest songs including "Run This Town."

That song and those in his finale showed just why the hip-hop mogul is "the best rapper ever," as he says in "Dirt Off Your Shoulder."

Rappers are always trying to prove they're the best at what they do, and after seeing Jay Z do his thing on Sunday, I think he's got it right when he makes his claim.

I've seen a lot of the best rappers around in the last year (some new on the scene and others with decades spent in the game), and Jay Z's stadium-shaking show was by far the best.

Amid a haze of marijuana smoke and bass so loud it echoed through the arena concourse, he spit old rhymes from "Big Pimpin'" and brand new ones including "Holy Grail."

Those two songs were made more than a decade apart, and Jay Z is still making some of his best stuff.

"Run This Town" shows he has some serious pop talent, too. And he can rhyme as good as anyone on tunes like "99 Problems" and "Empire State of Mind."

And, most importantly, Jay Z can put a crowd in a frenzy and keep them there for hours. Fans shouted every word to "Hard Knock Life" and filled the aisles (much to the annoyance of security) to dance during "On to the Next One."

I've never seen a crowd quite like that.

When he returned to the stage after the outage, the rapper showed off his black Husker jersey emblazoned with "S. Carter" on the back and thanked the crowd for being so welcoming.

"We turned it up too much in Nebraska and we broke the (expletive) building," he said. "I appreciate each and every person in this building that stayed and rocked with us. That's love."

Jay Z finished the set with "Young Forever," which the audience happily sang along to. (I suspect about 10,000 people will go to work today with hoarse voices.)

With another smile on his face, Jay Z said he'd definitely be back.

Contact the writer: Kevin Coffey

kevin.coffey@owh.com    |   402-444-1557    |  

Kevin covers music, whether it's pop, indie or punk, through artist interviews, reviews and trend stories. He also occasionally covers other entertainment, including video games and comic books.

Read more stories by Kevin

Contact the Omaha World-Herald newsroom

Copyright ©2014 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

Latest Stories

A saliva-inducing look at M's Pub's new happy hour
A saliva-inducing look at M's Pub's new happy hour

The downtown staple recently introduced a happy hour. And its menu's pretty amazing.

Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita
Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita

Chef Jose Dionicio has wisely refocused Taita on sushi, and the well-crafted small bites of fresh fish I tasted from his one-man sushi bar are delectable.

New Benson BBQ restaurant opens next week
New Benson BBQ restaurant opens next week

Fusion BBQ, at 7024 Maple St., focuses on American style barbecue cooking melded with international cuisines.

Nebraska's best burger determined by folks who know about this kind of thing
Nebraska's best burger determined by folks who know about this kind of thing

The Nebraska Beef Council announced the winner of its Nebraska's Best Burger contest.

Rockbrook Village restaurant Taste has a new chef
Rockbrook Village restaurant Taste has a new chef

Ryan Devitt will come to the restaurant as both a chef and partner to focus on farm-to-table style cuisine.

Over Easy will host a west Omaha block party
Over Easy will host a west Omaha block party

Over Easy is playing host to a west Omaha block party this summer.

Movie review: 'Transcendence' ends up quite ordinary
Movie review: 'Transcendence' ends up quite ordinary

“Transcendence,” a sci-fi thriller about an attempt to meld the human mind with technology, falls far short of transcendence. So far short I had to fight off sleep.

Dining notes: Dario’s has a new spring menu

Dario’s Brasserie in Dundee has a new spring menu, a new brunch menu and late night vittles.

Movie review: 'Bears' is cute — and so much more
Movie review: 'Bears' is cute — and so much more

"Bears" is exactly the sort of nature documentary we’ve come to expect from Disneynature, which rolls out a new nature documentary every year at Earth Day.

Movie review: 'Under the Skin's' sure to get under yours
Movie review: 'Under the Skin's' sure to get under yours

Quiet, cryptic and never less than creepy, here's a sci-fi that doesn't do the work for you. No character rattles off a paragraph or three of exposition and back story.

Movies Opening this week

Movie showtimes and theater listings

Read this!


Tonight in Prime Time
© 2014 Omaha World-Herald. All rights reserved