Jay Z, Justin Timberlake bring chemistry, hit formula to sold-out Ford Field

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Providing the yin to the other’s yang, Jay Z and Justin Timberlake dropped a potent one-two punch onto Ford Field Tuesday night.

With Timberlake laying down smooth dance moves alongside Jay Z’s seasoned laid-back swagger, the superstar duo lived up to one of the summer’s premier concert billings for a roaring, engaged audience of more than 40,000.

In a show that was intricately orchestrated but still loose enough to give the whole thing a freewheeling mood, the nearly 2½-hour set was a marathon party, a rat-a-tat-tat of hits and high energy.

Detroit was one of just a dozen cities to luck out on one the duo’s Legends of the Summer tour stops, and the football stadium was bristling with buzz well before the two appeared onstage at about 9:20 p.m. The last time we’d seen each of these guys in a stadium-sized setting here, it was across the street at Comerica Park: Timberlake in 2001 with ’N Sync, and Jay Z in 2010 when he co-headlined with Eminem.

Related: Jay Z, Justin Timberlake rock Ford Field, fans buzz on social media

They opened Tuesday with their new collaboration “Holy Grail,” appearing astride risers at opposite ends of the mammoth, lavish stage before making their way to the middle for the first of many side-by-side musical moments.

From there it was on through a rapid-fire selection of tunes to rev up the party: Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body,” a sprightly “I Want You Back” in its natural pairing with Jay Z’s “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” Timberlake’s “Senorita,” Jay’s “On to the Next One.”

It was all gloriously bombastic, the kind of night when having two drummers (and a percussionist), three keyboardists and a pair of video screens big enough to beam images to Canada all made perfect sense. And anyway, it wasn’t all just for show: The 14-piece band — complete with a feisty horn section and topped with four stylish backup singers — was tight, dense and nimble enough to serve both performers well.

Sure, this tour is a gimmick of sorts, teaming up two of the era’s biggest stars — and periodic studio collaborators — for a high-powered festival of hip-hop, R&B and pop. But Tuesday night, it was a gimmick that really worked: Jay Z and JT looked liked they’d been doing this together for years, sporting an affable chemistry as they played to one another and handed off the mic between comings and goings.

They’d arrived at Ford Field in dichotomous career spots: Jay Z the veteran rap kingpin on cruise control, Timberlake the comeback kid who seems to have remembered that he really digs this whole music thing. The latter was the harder working performer of the night, jumping from keyboard to piano to acoustic guitar when he wasn’t serving up his Michael Jackson-inspired maneuvers up front (and calling out to Detroit “Rock City” all night).

That certainly doesn’t mean Jay Z was second fiddle, and it was his litany of hits (“99 Problems,” “Hard Knock Life,” the stacatto-rapped “Jigga What, Jigga Who” and “Big Pimpin’”) that consistently drove the show. It’s old news at this point that the 43-year-old emcee has singlehandedly elevated the standards for live hip-hop in a big-stage production. But it’s still impressive to see it in action, and he prowled the Ford Field stage Tuesday night a larger-than-life showman, fully occupying his moment.

The set never dwelled too long in one musical place. The night’s most straightforward stretch came with Timberlake’s relatively lengthy midshow run of lush-grooved pop (“Summer Love,” “What Goes Around … Comes Around”), with “Cry Me a River” intensifying into a twin-guitar climax.

The only real awkward moment came with Timberlake’s rickety cover of “New York New York,” buttressing Jay’s “Empire State of Mind.” It was a lone clunker in a potent homestretch as the show began to hit its climatic run.

By the time they got to the encore, clad in tux jackets and hoisting glasses of champagne as they ran through a solid “Suit & Tie” and even better “Young Forever,” it was clear they’d accomplished something worth toasting themselves for. And don’t be suprised if 2013 isn’t the last time you see them doing it.

 

Mayor Savage Discouraging Fans From Attending Chris Brown Show

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Mayor Mike Savage of Halifax in Canada spoke publicly about his disdain for Chris Brown, saying he felt ‘sick’ that Chris would be performing in the city this August. HollywoodLife.com spoke to him exclusively, and he told us he’s discouraging people from attending. Is he being unfair?

Chris Brown has tried to move on from his past through charitable work, but not everyone is able to forget about his troubled history. The singer was recently slammed by the Mayor of Halifax, Mike Savage, who exclusively told HollywoodLife.com that he has a “pretty negative opinion of Chris,” and he would even discourage people from attending Chris’ upcoming show!

Mike Savage Slams Chris Brown

Mayor Savage spoke to us about Chris, 24, and his upcoming performance at the Energy Rush show in Halifax on August 31. He openly and honestly said he was not impressed that Chris would be performing, due to his past issues with domestic violence.

Here’s what he told us:

Violence against women is a gregarious issue, and people are concerned because it is a big issue in Nova Scotia. We are not going to pull the plug on the show, but when people ask me my opinion I’ll tell them. It’s just my opinion as a father and as a Mayor. It’s not for me to decide, but sure, if people asked me I would encourage them not to go to the show. We need more freedom of expression. I have an obligation to say my piece. I can’t comment on his music. If you ask me, I have a pretty negative opinion of Chris Brown.

Originally, the mayor said he felt “sick” that Chris would be performing in Halifax, and the show lost a sponsor when Chris was announced as the headliner.

“It makes me kind of sick, to be honest with you, that someone like this will be performing in Halifax,” he told Canada’s Chronicle Herald. He continued:

Those of us who are in public life — I’m in public life, he’s in public life — you have to be responsible for your past actions, and I think it sends a very, very wrong message to everybody. I’m not keen on the city supporting this in any way.

As a city, [we] believe it reflects poorly on us to not only host such an artist, but to make him the headliner of this show. It says that as a city, we do not care for domestic abuse as long as you can write a catchy dance song.

HollywoodLife.com also spoke to Chris’s rep, who says Chris partakes in many charitable endeavors — and that he is focused on the future, not the past.

Chris Brown’s Rep Speaks Out

“It’s a shame that some people are so short-sighted and uninformed,” his rep told HollywoodLife.com. Chris is an award-winning artist whose goal is to inspire and entertain.” She continued:

He engages in many philanthropic endeavors to support his community and communities worldwide including the Jenesse Center Domestic Violence Intervention Program, Best Buddies, AIDS Project Los Angeles, Kids Wish Network, Get Schooled and Home Again.

He’s just embarked on the Unity Campaign to bring people together despite their differences while promoting tolerance and forgiveness. Chris strives to learn from his past and to grow as a person, as we should all do. Chris is looking forward to being a part of the Energy Rush Concert Series.

Chris is certainly very active on the charity scene, and he was further defended by Stephen D. Tobin, owner of Drop Entertainment Group, which putting on the Energy Rush concert series. Stephen said:

Chris Brown is a multi-platinum, award winning, international artist and we are pleased to be welcoming him to Canada. Although Chris is as controversial as he is talented, there is no denying that he is one of the biggest, boldest, chart-topping names in the music industry today.

With the momentum of Chris’s new album set to release this Fall, we have full confidence these Canadian performances will in fact be very well received. The negativity has surprised us in Halifax because in Toronto & Winnipeg, the reaction has been nothing short of electric and positive.

To quote one of many positive comments we have received online….  ”Moral arguments have nothing to do with art. If that was the case, there’d be very few artists we could all feel good about. Every artist worth my time has some sort of issue. Whether it’s George Michael or Michael Jackson, I don’t care what anybody does in their personal life, as long as their music’s bangin’.”

What do YOU think HollywoodLifers? Do you agree or disagree with the Mayor? Are his comments too harsh?