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4 SHOWS, 1 NIGHT IN BALTIMORE

THE BALTIMORE SUN

For live music lovers, Tuesday night was a clash of the titans: Van Morrison, Jay-Z, Jewel and Snoop Dogg all performed at different Baltimore venues. It's rare to see such a diverse lineup of star musicians at once in Baltimore. Here are excerpts from reviews of the four shows, which originally appeared on the night life and music blog Midnight Sun:

Jay-Z at 1st Mariner Arena: : Jay-Z's performance was a 90-minute hit parade that toured through "The Black Album," "Vol. 2 ... Hard Knock Life" and the rapper's latest No. 1 album (his 11th to debut at No. 1, which surpasses Elvis' record), "The Blueprint 3." The highlights: "Jigga What, Jigga Who" was just dirty; Jay-Z nailed it. "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)" had an easygoing groove. And Pharrell joined Jay-Z for a solid performance of the brass-heavy, high-stepping "So Ambitious." The rest of the show was everything you'd expect from one of hip-hop's superstars: Swaggering, bragging and furious verses. Jay-Z dominated the mike, and the audience loved nearly every minute of it. - Sam Sessa, Baltimore Sun reporter

Snoop Dogg, Method Man and Redman at Rams Head Live: : On the Snoop Dogg Wonderland High School Tour, these veteran performers could satisfy the wants of the most finicky hip-hop fans. Unlike the newest generation of rappers who spit out trite lyric after trite lyric with tired catch phrases and the ever-so-annoying trend of auto tuning, the three rappers showed that strong beats and a distinct sound can go a long way. They were crisp in their delivery, it was pretty easy to follow their lyrics, and they all possessed some true showmanship. -John John Williams IV, Baltimore Sun reporter

Van Morrison at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall: : The Irish singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is one of popular music's great contradictions, as he proved during a 90-minute set. The performance was, on several levels, bewildering. Morrison spent most of the Meyerhoff gig directing his crack nine-piece ensemble (with strings) through simmering vamps and R&B; shuffles, stoically cuing a keyboardist to lay out here, inviting a guitarist to bend a few more bluesy licks there. The hour-and-a-half concert flew by without Morrison acknowledging his audience, and there was no encore despite the crowd's floor-shaking request for one. You might chalk all or at least some of this up to Van the Man's legendarily defiant being. But with tickets running roughly $80 to $350, legend only goes so far. - Evan Haga, Midnight Sun blog guest poster

Jewel at the Lyric Opera House: : For about two hours, the Alaskan-born singer-songwriter regaled her fans with beautifully sung acoustic versions of both her hits ("Hands," "Who Will Save Your Soul?") and songs only her true fans knew beforehand. Beginning with a passionate take on "Over the Rainbow," included on her latest album, "Lullaby," Jewel played to her strengths. Her voice clear, her storytelling both charming and often self-deprecating, she charmed, crooned and otherwise captivated the crowd. The evening was vintage Jewel: intimate, satisfying and over far too soon. - Chris Kaltenbach, Baltimore Sun reporter

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