Jay-Z played the first of eight shows at Barclays Center last night, the first public event at the newly opened arena in the middle of Brooklyn. And he treated it as a moment of triumph for both himself and the borough: “I have been on many stages all around the world. Nothing feels like tonight, Brooklyn, I swear to God!” Jay-Z said as he took the stage, adding later, “I’m really overwhelmed by the moment.” And he opened up things by unveiling a bit of a new song, rapping: “They call me Eight Shows H-O/You can stunt like that when you own the whole place, though...Shooters on my team/ No, really, I got shooters on my team.” Check it out in the video below.
Jay-Z played almost 30 songs during his set, alone on stage for most of the two hour show, surrounded by a sold out 18,000 crowd. His only guest star was Big Daddy Kane during the encore—though there was a projection of Biggie Smalls that popped up. Jay-Z wore a custom black No. 4 Brooklyn Nets jersey that read "Carter," and peppered his songs with new references to Brooklyn and the arena. "Everybody's from Brooklyn tonight," he said before diving into "Encore." Watch it below.
VIPs included Beyonce, Magic Johnson, Deron Williams, John McEnroe, Victor Cruz, and Al Roker (who took A LOT of instagram shots—see above). Fans were ecstatic: “The Garden is okay but it’s not topping this!” Shalon Perkins, 21, told the News. “This means everything to me. I love Jay-Z and I love Brooklyn! This is the greatest night of my life.” “It looks dope from the outside. It’s still spacious but not too far from everything. If you’re from Brooklyn you have to be here tonight,” Jovan Scott, 31, a firefighter from Flatbush, told the News. “As a Brooklyn fan and a Jay-Z fan, it doesn’t matter how much it costs. I have to represent.”
“This is amazing,” Keenan Davis, 35, an Internet marketer from Crown Heights, also told the News. “I remember hanging out near Ebbets Field after it shut down and listening to the older guys talk about their memories of that place. This is our Ebbets Field.” Marty Markowitz was particularly happy with that: “The same sweet memories I had watching a team of our own — guess what? The kids of Brooklyn will have those same memories,” Markowitz said. The WSJ noted that toward the end of the show, Jay-Z spotted a Brooklyn Dodgers jersey on a fan, borrowed it, and held Jackie Robinson’s #42 aloft.