FOXBOROUGH — In the opening video for their new tour together, Beyoncé and Jay Z play with old-school identities. She is the Bonnie to his Clyde, or, the screen titles indicated, she is “the queen,” he is “the gangster,” and together they are “the anarchists.”
The idea is that this husband and wife are a couple of bandits, trailblazers who cannot be tamed. And it was hard to deny that assertion at their sold-out show at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, only the third stop of their On the Run Tour. (More notable, it was also the first time Gillette has hosted a rapper as a headliner.)
Few performers could pull off a production of this scale and scope — more than 40 songs over 2½ hours. Similar to the brisk pacing of Jay Z’s dates with Justin Timberlake last year, there is not an ounce of fat on this tour. Nor is there much to behold beyond its stars: no long catwalks, elaborate sets, or even a visible band. With Beyoncé and Jay Z, two natural-born entertainers, you do not need much more.
BEYONCÉ & JAY Z
The night moved fast with little downtime apart from some video interludes. It was a breathless survey of their respective catalogs and a reminder of just how deep they run with hits, from his “Big Pimpin’ ” and “Show Me What You Got” to her “Crazy in Love” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”
The opposing lyrical forces in their songs made for a compelling round of he said, she said. After Jay rapped about how he has “99 problems but a [expletive that rhymes with witch] ain’t one,” Beyoncé turned the tables with “If I Were a Boy,” a pointed examination of gender inequality. (That segued into a surprising and soulful cover of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor,” complete with back-up singers.)
For a tour predicated on their power-couple status, their onstage chemistry was sometimes chilly. There was no banter between them, and he seemed to look lovingly in her direction more than she did. The exception was “Drunk in Love,” their recent hit, during which they beamed at each other and Jay draped his arm around his wife. He gave her a peck on the cheek toward the end of the night.
Beyoncé turned “Resentment” into a sublime slice of ’70s soul about letting go of a lover who cheated on her and then lied about it. It was tempting to think it was a commentary on recent rumors that Jay Z has been unfaithful. She even changed a lyric to reflect how long the two have been together: “been riding with you for 12 years.”
If there is trouble in paradise, it is certainly not the focal point of this tour. They even exited hand in hand. The so-called queen and gangster would never let the seams show.