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'Legends' Jay-Z, Timberlake rock it.

Byline: Jorge Bannister

BOSTON -- There is no other fitting name for the Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z tour making its trek across the U.S.

The "Legends of the Summer'' tour hit Fenway Park Saturday night to a near-capacity crowd, and was -- wait for it -- legendary.

Corny? Maybe. But certainly fitting.

With sports superstars Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Tom Brady in attendance as personal VIP guests, Timberlake and Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) delivered a nearly masterful two hours of music with a different approach.

Opening with "Holy Grail,'' and, why not, Timberlake is a featured artist on the track, off Jay Z's multi-platinum release "Magna Carta ... Holy Grail,'' both Timberlake and Jay Z seemed comfortable roaming the huge stage situated in center field while performing together.

The opener fell a little flat due to Timberlake's ... well, we'll call it adrenaline. The usually spot-on performer was a bit pitchy and slightly off-key during the opener.

Instead of two separate sets by two of music's megasuperstars, the two shared the stage for most of the night, including having six of the first seven songs as mashups -- Jay Z's "I Just Wanna Love U (Give it 2 Me)''/ Timberlake's "Rock Your Body,'' "I Want You Back (Timberlake's homage to the Jackson 5)'' / Jay Z's "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)'' and Jay Z's "Excuse Me Miss'' / Timberlake's "Senorita.''

While Jay Z is no stranger to this approach -- he did this back in 2004 on a smaller scale with Linkin Park for the six-song EP/DVD "Collision Course'' -- Timberlake seemed equally comfortable performing in this format.

Both delivered full versions of songs in their catalogue. Instead of delivering it alone, though, they had their own personal superstar hype man delivering it with them.

They did, however, each have a seven-song chunk during the set to shine all alone.

Jay Z took advantage, ripping off "Jigga What, Jigga Who,'' "U Don't Know,'' "99 Problems,'' "f**kwithmeyouknowigotit,'' "Public Service Announcement,'' "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),'' and "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love).''

Timberlake's seven songs saw him pandering to the predominantly female crowd. A smart business move, sure, but the ballad-after-ballad approach was a true momentum killer.

The only thing that salvaged Timberlake's alone time with the audience was "What Goes Around ... Comes Around,'' during which Jay Z came out toward the end before the band segued into one of Jay Z's bigger hits (and there are a lot of them), "Dirt Off Your Shoulder.''

The funniest part of the night -- an ironical funny, really -- was the verve and gusto with which the crowd sang along with Jay Z during "Empire State of Mind.'' To the unfamiliar, the song, which features Alicia Keys -- another music superstar from New York City -- is primarily about making it in New York City; and, if you can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere.

After Timberlake's "Sexy Back,'' came the encore. No, not Jay Z's "Encore''; that was played earlier in the night.

The show's encore kicked off with Timberlake's "Suit & Tie,'' complete with both artists coming out with suit coats and a glass of champagne for the occasion. As with most of the night, Jay Z's verse -- which comes during the bridge of the song -- was the dominating performance.

The show ended with a poignant and personal rendition of "Young Forever,'' which both Jay Z and Timberlake dedicated to the city of Boston in recognition of the Boston Marathon bombings and for being Boston Strong. It was something else to see Fenway lit up throughout by cellphones from field level to the seats.

Contact Jorge Bannister, site producer, by email at
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Title Annotation:Living
Author:Bannister, Jorge
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 12, 2013
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