How hot was Jay-Z’s last-minute MySpace gig at New York City’s 600-capacity Blender Theater on Wednesday night? The FDNY charged in to break the party up — and stayed to watch the show.
A piercing fire alarm seemed to signal the end of the hip-hop superstar’s surprise appearance, but soon enough, New York’s bravest stood nodding their heads in full gear (axes, oxygen tanks, fire-retardant suits) as the Hova retook the stage to finish an incendiary greatest-hits set.
The show, of course, was to promote his cameo-jammed new album, The Blueprint 3, and the new DJ Hero game, laid out in full demo mode in the theater’s basement. And though a rumored Rihanna guest-spot never materialized, Jay-Z offered an ecstatic, sweaty crowd something much better: A 25-song run, accompanied by his 10-piece live band and running the gamut of his decade-plus career.
Amidst the requisite TB3 tracks — “D.O.A. (Death of Autotune),” “Run This Town,” “Venus vs. Mars” — he dropped block-party classics “Big Pimpin’,” “Show Me What You Got,” “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me),” “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love),” “Excuse Me Miss,” “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” “Can I Get A…” and “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” and led crowd sing-alongs on a gloriously messy, chaotic “99 Problems” and nearly a cappella “Hard Knock Life.”
Jay, clad sunglasses to sneakers in black, stopped the show at one point to clown an audience member: “Yo, homeboy sitting on the steps — this ain’t a poetry reading. You f—in’ up my vibe. These great people here came to party.” But later, he turned it around, telling the crowd: “There’s a lotta love in here tonight, I appreciate that.”
In the end, he went a half hour over his allotted 45-minute set-time before admitting, “We really gotta get out of here now, enough is enough.” And dozens of giddy show-goers — firemen included — finally streamed out into the cool September night, looking like they just won the lottery.
What about you, Music Mixers, were you there — or wish you were?