Watch The Throne – Jay-Z and Kanye West, O2 Arena, London

5.00

 

“I guarantee this will be the greatest concert of your life,” says Kanye West, with typical modesty, at one point in this first London Watch the Throne show. For fans of the pair, he might not be too far off the mark.  

When Kanye and Jay-Z - friends, collaborators and contenders for the throne of the kingdom of hip-hop - announced that they would be taking their 2011 collaboration on tour, perhaps the best that fans could expect was a recreation of that album’s brazen, accomplished, glossy production.

What the Watch The Throne tour has turned into, though, is a bicephalous celebration of two of hip-hop’s best back catalogues. That set-up provides the basis for a tag-team approach to proceedings. The show starts with Jay-Z in the middle of the arena on a square, rising stage, Kanye – in a dubious leather pants/skirt combo is on something similar at the stage end. The pair rap “H.A.M” and “Who Gon Stop Me” over a gulf of fans as videos of rottweilers and sharks light the ground beneath their feet.

Then Jay-Z disappears and returns to the main stage for the pair to sing “Otis” – their sample-tastic reworking of Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness”. Then - for over two hours - the pair, tag-in and tag-out of the stage. One minute it’s Kanye doing “Jesus Walks” and “Flashing Lights”, the next it’s Jay-Z doing “IZZO (H.O.V.A)” and “Empire State of Mind”.

Both have weaknesses, but the match-up covers for both. Kanye has the better feel for the stadium spectacular. His “spontaneous” stopping of “All The Lights” is actually something he’s done on almost every night on the tour but it adds an air of uncertainty to the slick, pyrotechnic-enhanced set. He’s arguably got the better songs too, with cuts from his stupendous My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy like “Power” and “Monster” providing peaks in the bounteous 39-song set. Jay-Z, on the other hand, is clearly the more accomplished rapper and performer.  

Kanye’s five-minute auto-tuned wig-out during “Runaway”, is the evening’s sole flat-note. Most moments are enthralling. No less so than the closing gimmick in which the pair repeat Watch The Throne’s “Niggas In Paris” for as many times as they feel like. London gets four repeats here – which is about par for the tour. It’s a bit daft, but it’s a fun way to end things and, frankly, these monsters of rap can do what they like.

Setlist:

H•A•M

Who Gon' Stop Me

Otis

Welcome to the Jungle

Gotta Have It

Where I'm From

Jigga What, Jigga Who (Originator '99)

Can't Tell Me Nothing

All Falls Down

Flashing Lights

Jesus Walks

Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)

Public Service Announcement (Interlude)

U Don't Know

Run This Town

Monster

Power/Power Remix

New Day

Hard Knock Life (The Ghetto Anthem)

Izzo (H.O.V.A.)

Empire State of Mind

Runaway

Heartless

Stronger

On to the Next One

Dirt Off Your Shoulder

I Just Wanna Love U (Give it to Me)

That's My Bitch

Good Life

Touch the Sky

All of the Lights

Big Pimpin'

Gold Digger

99 Problems

No Church in the Wild

Lift Off (Interlude)

Niggas in Paris

Niggas in Paris

Encore:

Niggas in Paris

Niggas in Paris 

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice