Saturday, 15 March 2014

Review // Drake @ Phones 4 U Arena

The absolute angels over at Universal sent me to the opening night of Drake's 'Would You Like A tour?' here in Manchester earlier in the week. I (willingly/ unwillingly? Delete as appropriate) dragged Ceej along for throwing out some moves to my favourite non-guilty pleasure, it was an ostentatiously brilliant way to spend a Tuesday night and you can read all about it below!
Drake @ Phones 4 U Arena
Aubrey Drake Graham; Canadian child television wonder, rap superstar and poster boy for the millennial generation of emotional hip-hop, kicked off his ‘Would You Like A (UK) Tour?’ at Manchester’s Phones 4 U Arena on Tuesday. With a surplus of pyrotechnic explosions and splashing out on a reported two million dollar production budget, an additional invite to fellow Canuck The Weeknd to hop aboard his tour bus for this latest ten date run, extends further great promise and growth for tens of thousands of attendees.
 As soon as darkness dawned upon the stage, it seemed that spectators were more interested in Vine-ing blurry six second clips of the self-proclaimed Champagne Papi, rather than allowing their breath to be taken away by a, literally, sparking Tuscan Leather introduction. Holding down his on-stage territory with great audacity and a modest-sized, in-house band setting off his routine every step of the way, Graham distinguishes himself more self-assured and high-energy than ever. Alongside a mean-sounding rendition of Worst Behaviour, 305 To My City and the serenade-worthy Hold On We’re Going Home, non-album track Trophies and flutters of his guest spots on French Montana’s Pop That and A$AP Rocky’s Fuckin' Problems, make crystal clear that the So Far Gone-era classics don’t always have to be present.
 As mentioned, two million dollars is a ridiculously large amount of money by anyone’s standards to reserve solely for production value, however, surely on this titanic scale such bucks can be justified, presented and executed to an outstanding level, of which engages in nothing less than astonishing, a million times over. Or so you would believe. Realising that throughout his ninety-minute spectacular that the colossal chrome lighting rig suspended on the roof of the building, enlisted for Graham to interact more with his crowd, was utilised once for an unnecessarily lengthy period, suddenly the setting felt like a dilatory, showy attempt at being lavish purely for the sake of being lavish. Then comes the corny fifty-foot high monochrome portraits onscreen, tarnishing somewhat the latter-part of the show as wincingly self-appreciating, compared to the unpretentious aura that was present half an hour previous... and don’t even get me started on the cringe-worthy lyric adaptions of Manchester-based puns that were unavoidable come every other verse.
Nonetheless, it’s near impossible to question the OVO head’s methods of practice and sentimental lyrical ease, when he is the solitary figure on stage operating with impeccable execution. Before we know it, it’s a little after eleven and warnings of the impending climax approach; a hip-bumping portrayal of The Motto here, a smoke-rocket led swagger of HYFR there, ‘Would You Like A Tour?’ achieved the career-spanning setlist desired with formidable brilliance and just the perfect side-order of showmanship. Shouting out mentor-figures in the industry including Jay Z and Lil Wayne before bidding his sophomore arena audience goodbye, he needn’t look up nor fall back in comparison when four full-lengths deep, Aubrey Drake Graham has finally graduated with his soft-side flow crown, polished in place.

Words by Yours Truly X

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