Jay-Z performs: Encore, do you want more?

2006-10-13 16:10
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For example, the venue. I’ve never liked the Bellville Velodrome because of the bad acoustics. It can make even the best singer sound like they are singing in their shower, and for poor Rihanna, who is a mediocre singer at best, it did nothing to compliment her singing. More about the sound later.

The ushers working at the venue also seemed powerless in enforcing the two-metre no-smoking signs that many Capetonians don’t seem to be able to read. So even before the concert begins, you are high on second-hand dagga and in desperate need of an oxygen mask from the smoke inhalation.

Yes, I’ve been to many concerts and realise that smoking, getting high and getting drunk is part of the joy. But often I've been so engrossed in the show, it hasn't bothered me too much. But last night was different. I felt so let down by the performances, every time somebody lit up, I wanted to throw my bottled water at them.

Kabelo was the highlight of the evening. He had the crowd moving and singing along to his hits like “Mavusane” and “Pantsula for Life”. His set was too short, but sweet nonetheless. Especially for a guy from Soweto who has idolised Jay-Z since he was a little boy, and can now say he has shared a stage with him.

But before the master could grace the stage, protégé Rihanna had to show us what she was made of. It wasn’t much. She failed to blow me away with her performance and her dancers looked even less experienced than the teenager. At one point when the male dancer was doing a turn while carrying the female dancer, they both fell over, but caught the fall quickly enough to exit the stage. They did come back to attempt to entertain us during Rihanna's three costume changes. The only song that she was able to redeem herself with was Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”, but for me it was too little too late. When the man himself entered the stage with signature, I-don’t-care-what-I-wear look – a hooded white sweat top, jeans, and sneakers – the crowd went wild. It was obvious that the almost full Velodrome was there for Jigga himself. He had his DJ with him, and none other than Memphis Bleek was helping out on the vocals.

The rest of the stage had lots of lights. Bright lights that kept flashing and probably caused blindness in some of the audience members. There were also fireworks, flames and shiny confetti coming from the stage. Jay-Z was good, but not great. Maybe his die-hard fans will disagree with me, and there were many of those. At one point a fan corrected his neighbour’s hand signal, showing her how to do the Roc sign, for Roc-A-Fella, Jay-Z’s record label (For those who don’t know, you join your thumbs and index fingers to make a diamond shape in the air).

When he did sing his chart hits like “Big Pimping”, “Encore”, “Girls”, “Can I Get A…” and “Hard Knock Life”, the crowd went wild. But they only got snippets of the songs, understandable for a man who has had more than 12 top twenty singles. The only time we really got a chance to experience the Jay-Z many people know and love was when he flowed a cappella. The rest of the time, mostly because of the bad sound, you could hardly hear that this was a five-time Grammy award winning rapper and the greatest rapper of all time.

-Nomfundo H. Mbaba+Tshabalala

At most concerts, there can be disappointments and annoyances, and the Jay-Z/Rihanna show in Cape Town was no different.

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