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Jay-Z opens revamped Palladium

October 19, 2008|Margaret Wappler; Pete Thomas; Lauren Beale;


Only an hour or so after the final presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama, the Hollywood Palladium, closed for the last year while Live Nation restored it, reopened Wednesday with Jay-Z taking the stage, greeted by 4,000 fans holding up their hands in the shape of a diamond.

Despite the salute of affluence, Jay-Z wasn't out there as his nattily suited Chairman of the Board persona but Hova, a flash-tongued performer in his Rocawear ready to play -- and pitch for his candidate. Jay-Z is fascinated with identity and particularly his own quintessentially American rags-to-riches story, so it was only right to open with "Say Hello" from "American Gangster," one of the latest songs to retell his arduous climb to rap superpower.

The evening's golden occasion gave him ample opportunity to illuminate those themes in new ways. The Palladium originally opened in 1940 with a performance from the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and its up-and-coming singer, Frank Sinatra. The renovation has brought it back to a highly polished showcase, but a few signs of its storied past are still visible.

The 11,200-square-foot maple-wood dance floor, for instance, still shows scuffs from decades of dancing and rocking out, but the sparkling chandeliers and the red glowing lights highlight the Palladium's lovely whorled ceiling.

Booking Jay-Z for the Palladium's second opening was clearly meant to draw parallels from one Renaissance man to another.

"I consider myself Ol' Brown Eyes, baby," Jay-Z told the crowd, and like Sinatra in his later years, Jay-Z's show was a tour through his beloved, still-fresh hits, but there was also recent ground to revisit.

For "Blue Magic," the screen behind him blasted image after image of Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, spliced with shots of President Bush looking overwhelmed or clueless.

There was only one thing to talk about after that: "How many people here voting for Obama?" Jay-Z asked, pacing the stage. The crowd roared back in the affirmative.

Momentarily satiated, Jay-Z reintroduced himself with the opening track from "The Black Album," only to be joined a few minutes later by T.I., rap's prevailing superstar and Jay-Z's protege. Swapping freestyling duties on the mic, T.I.'s turn included a funny nod about being "way left field like Jamiroquai," but the Atlanta native is actually top and center with his chart-ruling album "Paper Trail."

A little later, Jay-Z gave respect to DJ AM, recently recovered from a plane accident that killed four people and narrowly spared AM and Travis Barker. Onstage as Jay-Z's laptop man, DJ AM's hair was still patchy from treatments, but he smiled and waved his arms in the air as Jay-Z implored the crowd to "make some noise for DJ AM" and give a quick shout-out to Barker.

-- Margaret Wappler

From Pop & Hiss: The L.A. Times music blog

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Sarah Palin look-alike contest

Alaska is known for its fine hunting and fishing but more known these days for its bespectacled hunting and fishing governor, who is aspiring to become vice president on the Republican ticket.

Sarah Palin's immense popularity has prompted a Sarah and Todd Palin look-alike contest at Blues Central in Anchorage; the finals are Oct. 29.

Grand prize: a guided moose-hunting trip and a rifle. And this, more than anything, is luring participants from far and wide.

One woman dressed up before flying to Anchorage and many eyes were upon her. She took a cab to Blues Central and experienced stage fright when she was the first person called to take the stage.

But when asked about the energy policy, she stood and shouted, "Drill, drill, drill!" while punching the air, and the crowd went wild.

Whitney LaRose, a surgeon's assistant at a Kenai-area hospital, is a mother of three who is typically in bed by 8:30. But she broke that habit for two reasons: "I love guns. And I want to go on a guided moose hunt."

Somewhere in the vast wilderness, those great creatures are raising their heads, twitching their Bullwinkle ears, wondering what seems amiss, then going back to munching in lush meadows, or whatever it is they do.

-- Pete Thomas

From Outposts: Hike, surf, fish and get outdoors in Southern California

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State Realtors see price drop

Even the normally bullish California Assn. of Realtors sees further declines ahead, according to an article by Times staff writer Diane Wedner.

"Home prices across the state will continue to drop next year, even as sales, spurred by the low prices on foreclosed properties, will keep rising in 2009," according to a California Assn. of Realtors forecast. CAR projects that the median price of an existing California home will decline 6% to $358,000 in 2009.

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