Jay Z, Justin Timberlake rock Yankee Stadium
Maybe this really is the stuff of legends.
Jay Z and Justin Timberlake's "Legends of the Summer Tour," which arrived at a sold-out Yankee Stadium last night and returns again Saturday night, is a surprising musical partnership on so many levels. It's unheard of for two acts at the top of the music industry to team up this way -- Jay Z just landed his 13th No. 1 album for "Magna Carta Holy Grail," and Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience" is the year's biggest-seller so far.
Yet here they are, looking completely at ease, even in the sweltering heat, helping out on each other's songs seemingly ego-free as they walk across the massive stage in centerfield.
"I hope y'all ready to party tonight," Jay Z said after the opener "Holy Grail." "I hope y'all ready for a legendary evening tonight."
The "Legends" tour breaks down in the same way Billy Joel and Elton John did when they established this kind of superstar pairing with the "Face to Face" tours -- with Timberlake and Jay Z performing together, then doing separate sets, and then closing together.
The success of the show was in the collaborations. Timberlake took over where Pharrell sang on Jay's "Just Wanna Love You (Give It 2 Me)," while Jay offered vocal encouragement during Timberlake's "Rock Your Body."
Because of the live band and Timberlake's versatility, the opening to Jay's "Izzo," originally a sample of The Jackson Five's "I Want You Back," could be extended, with Timberlake singing lead.
On Jay Z's "On to the Next One," Timberlake played keyboards. He also took on guitar duties for "99 Problems," where he also performed the role of the song's policeman character.
The biggest moment of the night, though, came from the combination of Timberlake doing "Theme From 'New York, New York' " and Alicia Keys joining Jay for "Empire State of Mind," making the argument that their song will eventually join the Sinatra classic in the city's musical canon.
It showed how Timberlake and Jay Z were able to push each other to new heights. And as long as that continues, this odd couple has a future.