Jay-Z gives Hollywood venue a memorable comeback

Fri Oct 17, 2008 6:50pm EDT
 
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By Erik Pedersen

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Where to begin? The Old Hollywood vibe outside the renovated Palladium, with the spotlights, red carpet and swarms of celeb-gawkers and people-watchers? The long-neglected venue's new sparkle and revelatory sound? DJ AM's aw-shucks return to performing?

No. This special night, on which a landmark Tinseltown concert hall was rechristened after a multimillion-dollar renovation, belonged to the headliner.

The large band kicked in, and rap's biggest act sauntered onstage. "Y'all wanna go all the way tonight," Jay-Z surmised about the crowd after his opening number. They did, and he obliged.

They were dancing early and often -- on the packed floor, in the VIP balcony, even in the VVIP balcony -- with folks throwing their hands in the air like they really do care. And there was plenty to care about as Jay-Z mined his catalog that includes 10 No. 1 albums and smash singles for 95 sweaty minutes.

Acknowledging the Palladium's storied history early on, Jay-Z name-checked Frank Sinatra, the then-rising singer for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, which christened the place in 1940. "I consider myself Ol' Brown Eyes," he said with a grin.

His raps were alternately speedy and slow, political and boastful, accusatory and celebratory. It was funky, poppy, a little old school, new school and middle school. And the well-behaved crowd simply lapped it up.

Songs bled into one another, with few extended breaks between. One of several high points was the perpetual crescendo of "Show Me What You Got," with the three-piece horn section and one of the two drummers working harder than they did all night.

After an affecting a cappella take on the Katrina requiem "Minority Report," which made heart-wrenching use of the Palladium's new giant HD screens, Jay-Z asked almost rhetorically, "How many people here votin' for Obama?" The pro-Obama theme was revisited several times.   Continued...