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Originally published October 18, 2009 at 3:06 AM | Page modified October 18, 2009 at 8:55 AM

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Seattle goes crazy for Jay-Z at KeyArena show

A review of Jay-Z's Oct. 17 show at KeyArena in Seattle, where one of the biggest stars in the world showed his fans he loved them — and vice versa.

Seattle Times arts writer

Concert Review |

At the end of his concert Saturday night — a concert everybody in the sold-out KeyArena rapped every word to — Jay-Z acknowledged his constituents. He pointed into the crowd from the front row to the rafters. A spotlight followed the line from his finger to his people.

"You in the Crooks & Castles shirt. Yeah. I see you. You with the nice dress. I like that. You're killin' that."

It went on forever, Jay-Z letting people know he saw them. And then near the stage, someone held up an airbrushed T-shirt which Jay-Z demanded be shown on one of the JumboTron screens behind him. On it was a man's face and the words "Lost One," a reference to a 2006 Jay-Z song partially about the death of his nephew. Jay explained this significance to the rest of the crowd, who already understood, and said:

"That's love. That's love, right there."

Besides being one of the biggest stars in the world, Jay-Z is part of people's lives (and deaths) in a way few pop musicians are nowadays, and it felt good to see him call special attention to that fact.

KeyArena was with him from the first song, "Run This Town," to the last, "Young Forever," which are both off his new album "The Blueprint 3." It's a little over a month old and marks Jay's 11th number-one album, breaking Elvis' record. Jay-Z is now The King.

He commanded his ocean of adorers to wave its hands side to side and they did, but at one point got the entire stadium to lose its mind just by standing still and delivering a pointed sidelong glance.

The best song of the night was "Empire State of the Mind," a "Blueprint 3" song. On the gigantic screen behind the stage, a camera on a helicopter showed New York City at night from about 80 stories up, slo-mo, all shiny skyscrapers and big-city glitter. With that swirling behind him, Jay-Z panthered around the stage in black jeans and a Yankees hat, rapping about how he's the new Sinatra, seeming very much the best rapper alive. The hook was handled by Bridget Kelly, a new Jay-Z find with a big voice who made the chorus a total gut-puncher, something like Harry Nilsson's "Can't Live (If Living is Without You)."

Jay-Z crammed in so many hits, some only got 30-seconds of stage time. But while nobody in attendance heard all their favorites, everyone went home loving Jay-Z, and knowing Jay-Z loved them.

Andrew Matson: 206-464-2153 or

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