Glenn Gamboa writes about music for Newsday.
Jay Z set the bar high at his sold-out show at Nassau Coliseum Sunday night.
"The last time I was in this building I brought Michael Jackson to the stage," he said. "I know that show will be a hard one to top, but we're going to try tonight."
Jay Z looked comfortable on the Nassau Coliseum stage, smiling broadly throughout much of the set, taking time to teach people in the audience some of his dance moves when he wasn't impressing with unaccompanied rapid-fire rhymes.
He should make himself at home considering he will be involved in renovating it with his partners at Forest City Ratner, who also built Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Though his "Magna Carta... Holy Grail" album received the most negative reviews of his career, in concert, those songs come to life, perhaps helping explain how the album carries the most nominations into next Sunday's Grammy Awards.
"Picasso Baby" is much stronger thanks to the fuzzed-out guitar and bigger groove it gets in concert, as well as the momentum from following a powerful "99 Problems" that is more industrial than it has been on recent tours.
His four-piece band, which included DJ/producer Timbaland, raised the energy of the new album's songs, especially "Tom Ford" and even "Holy Grail," which had the audience singing Justin Timberlake's part.
However, it was his classics like "Can I Live" and "Run This Town," that hit hardest.
When he declared, "I want Nassau Coliseum to shake tonight," he immediately got his wish as the crowd bounced on his command.