Ron Koch / MGM
Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 | 6:48 p.m.
Hip-hop is built to fill clubs, not arenas. Friday at the MGM Grand, Jay-Z and Kanye West proved that they’re a rare exception in that regard—and that they’re not.
Touring behind August collaboration Watch the Throne, the pair certainly had the production to pull off the big show. They began atop separate platforms that rose to become massive cubes, their sides projecting vivid images of barking dogs and swimming sharks. From there we got laser lights, pyrotechnics and towering videos that would have made Pink Floyd proud in the 1970s.
- Jay-Z and Kanye West
- December 9, MGM Grand
The two men also have the hits to command an arena crowd, as the 13,100-ticket sellout proved rather definitively. When West and Jay-Z weren’t teaming up for tunes off Throne, they were taking turns on lead microphone, for songs even your grandma can sing in the grocery aisles: “Jesus Walks,” “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “Stronger,” “Empire State of Mind.” And just when it seemed like the setlist couldn’t go bigger, it went supermassive, firing “Good Life,” “Touch the Sky,” “All of the Lights,” “Big Pimpin’,” “Gold Digger” and “99 Problems” at us—in succession. Whew.
What kept the concert from being a classic? Unsurprisingly, the sound. A murky, bass-heavy mix overpowered the rappers’ vocals with annoying regularity (and wouldn’t you know it, it affected Jay-Z’s lyrically rich rhymes more often than West’s Auto-Tuned dreck). A full band—like the one Jay-Z brought to the Pearl in 2009—would have made far more sonic sense than this DJ-and-keyboards setup. Maybe next time.
To end the night, West and Jay-Z went with a stunt that seemed odd on paper but actually worked onstage. After performing current single “Ni**as in Paris” they paused and then played it again to end the main set. For an encore, the guys came back with, yep, “Ni**as in Paris,” then did the same song again … and again … and again … We ended up with six full versions, each wilder and more intense than the one before.
To paraphrase the song’s chorus, that sh*t was indeed cray, but for better and for worse, hip-hop conventions aren’t of serious concern on the Watch the Throne tour.
MGM Grand, a AAA Four Diamond resort, offers 5,044 rooms and suites.
MGM Grand features KÀ by Cirque du Soleil; Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club; and world-class entertainment at the Grand Garden Arena and Hollywood Theatre.
The resort offers signature restaurants by celebrity chefs including Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House, Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill and Michelin three star and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Joël Robuchon.
As part of its ongoing “Grand Renovation,” MGM Grand has remodeled all rooms and suites in its main tower and is adding several new experiences to its lineup including Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant and Nightclub, a new upscale dining/nightlife concept (coming in April 2013).
MGM Grand also features a state-of-the-art, non-smoking conference center, the Grand Spa, Cristophe Salon, "CSI: The Experience" and an inviting pool complex featuring the tantalizing daylife of Wet Republic.
Upscale accommodations include The Mansion, an exclusive hotel within the hotel; the luxurious two-story SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand; and The Signature at MGM Grand, a luxury all-suite, non-gaming hotel located adjacent to the main resort.