Last night's Jay Z/Justin Timberlake concert played out like the apex of summer. I heard "Blurred Lines" five times before I even found my seat and, once I did, all anyone could talk about was Kendrick Lamar's diss track that hit the Internet earlier in the day.
A little after 9 p.m., Justin Timberlake and Jay Z opened their show with an impressive version of Hov's "Holy Grail" featuring JT. The stage and complimentary digital display was immaculate and elegant, setting the tone for what would prove to be a wonderful performance from both men.
Justin Timberlake and Jay Z are masters of their craft. Every breath choreographed, every collaboration planned. From JT's fist-up pose synching with Jay Z's "beat them charges like Rocky" line in "H to the Izzo", to the drummer's Mitchell & Ness tank, every ounce of this show seemed predetermined for greatness.
They briefly covered the Jackson 5, lyric-checked Boyz II Men, and even offered a hardly noticeable flash of Yeezus. Hov and JT knew exactly what they were doing, opening the show with a collaborative effort on "Holy Grail" before launching into a "Best Of" performance that saw an hour go by before Timberlake even touched his latest material. We were treated to "Big Pimpin'" and "Senorita" and "99 Problems" and "Dirt Off My Shoulder" before we even thought about touching "Tom Ford" and "Mirrors".
Honestly, JT's "Cry Me a River" might be the most emphatic live performance of a generation. Seriously. It was, really, his first post-*NSYNC hit, written after he was scorned by a Mickey Mouse Club lover who happened to present herself to the world as an untouched, everygirl. Now, it's one of the most successful, rousing "f*** you" anthems that Millennials have to pull from. And it's even more enjoyable and relatable when you see it live, coupled with JT's double middle fingers at the end.
But then, just when you thought that these two men—hyper aware of their commercial appeal, but still in touch with their artistic sensibility—would offer an untouchable, breath-taking performance, Justin Timberlake came out on stage about two-thirds of the way through the show and sang, "Start spreading the news..."
What followed was a brief cover of Frank Sinatra's version of "New York, New York." Then, after a few lines, Jay Z came out on stage and played "Empire State of Mind" as the Citizens Bank Park crowd erupted. In the same outfield that was home to A-Rod's go-ahead double and Posada's Game 4-sealing single, Timberlake came out and played what is, basically, the Yankees theme song before Jay Z came out and performed the anthem of the Bronx Bombers' 2009 championship run through the City of Brotherly Love. It was blasphemy. I looked around, astonished, as everyone sang along and bobbed their heads to the song that, just a few years earlier, ushered in what is proving to be the official death of the current version of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Maybe I'm holding a grudge. Maybe I'm shortsighted and shallow and vengeful and classless. But, honestly, f*** that song. I hate the tune and the lyrics and I don't like hearing people sing it, especialy while they're wearing Phillies hats and swaying to-and-fro smack dab in the middle of the the Citizens Bank Park foul poles. Back in the fall of 2009, you couldn't breathe without hearing half a verse of Alicia Keys' chorus on that track. Now, just a handful of years later, we're expected to sing along with Jay Z as if we're celebrating another Yankees banner?! It just feels wrong.
It's certainly possible that I had my guard down and my hopes up, but when JT and Hov launched into the Yankees anthem, there wasn't a boo to be heard in South Philly. And, as the Phils rest 19.5 games out of first place, it seems that booing a Yankees theme song from the '09 World Series might be have been the last feat of strength that we could muster before packing it in for a season.
The Legends of Summer Tour was, likely, well worth the money, no matter what you paid for your tickets. Jay Z's diction and authorative annunciation, JT's swoon-worthy crooning and infectious dancing. If you weren't at CBP on Tuesday, then you missed the climax of the summer of 2013 in Philly. It's just a shame that Phils fans are so apathetic that they couldn't even offer a half-hearted, disapproving reaction to the song that kept them up at night just a few years ago.
Or, maybe, I should just let it go.