thu 21/10/2021

Drake, O2 Arena | reviews, news & interviews

Drake, O2 Arena

Drake, O2 Arena

He started at the bottom, and now he's here

Drake apparently had a good Weeknd

There was something of a Canadian invasion at the O2 last night, but this is about as far from lumberjacks and mounties as it comes. Abel Tesfaye, better known as the Weeknd, is getting straight to the point. “I want to get on top, London!” This may of course simply be a metaphor for his and mentor Drake’s meteoric rise to fame, but Tesfaye does seem to like saying naughty things.

All sleaze aside, though, his sleek, futuristic brand of R&B tonight is bolstered by a backing band of considerable talent, making songs from his recent Kiss Land project sizzle and pop in the cavernous O2 arena, in contrast to their intimacy on record. Reception for older hits such as “The Morning” is considerable, but the first real roar of the evening is reserved for the arrival of the tonight’s headliner, Drake.

Arriving in a blast of smoke onto a sleek, futuristic stage set that wouldn’t look out of place at an Anish Kapoor retrospective, Drake is in a boisterous mood, flinging himself across the stage with abandon. The first time that he played this venue was with urban behemoth Jay-Z, and it is clear that Drake, like Mr. Z, understands the power of presentation. He blows through hits from his most recent album Nothing Was the Same at a considerable pace, even announcing to the crowd at one stage that with his copious canon, he could do this all night.

The most fascinating thing about Drake's music is that it straddles perfectly the line between the heartfelt introspection of soul and R&B music, and the more traditional rap tropes of braggadocio and casual misanthropy. It is this rare injection of self-awareness and soul-revealing honesty into a genre renowned for its sometimes ludicrous displays of hyper-masculinity that cut through the audience limitations of both genres. This has opened Drake up to a whole new audience, although his recent addition to the pop lexicon with the faintly infuriating acronym 'YOLO' ("you only live once", of course) almost certainly helped there too. All of this has gone a long way to cementing his ubiquity amongst both the pop and urban crowds, who are both well represented here tonight.

It is this inconsistency that makes the show so watchable

The O2 show is the conclusion of a year-long tour that has seen Drake supported by a galaxy of stars throughout North America and Europe, and this was no exception. Bar the obligatory re-appearance of The Weeknd onstage for the brooding “Loving the Crew”, there is a wonderful appearance by the incredibly talented Jhene Aiko, on “From Time” from Nothing Was the Same. Although both guests put in a valiant effort, it is impossible to keep up with Drake’s showmanship and easy charm: he is the consummate people pleaser.

Unfortunately, this eagerness was taken to its illogical conclusion in the last 20 minutes of the show. Already dwarfed by his cavernous surroundings, he darted around up on a gigantic circular raised walkway, allowing him to spend a painfully long time pointing to and shouting out specific people and groups in the crowd. While it is easy to roll your eyes at his earnestness, you sense that he is genuinely delighted to be here sharing his music with us - which makes his gleeful extolling of the virtues of isolationism on the DJ Khaled hit "No New Friends" a couple of songs beforehand rather puzzling.

But it is this inconsistency that makes the show so watchable: Drake is a mass of contradictions. He is the relatable superstar, yet remote, riddled with anxiety, doubt and regret just like the rest of us, craving isolation, yet above all wanting to please us all. Whether, as his lyrics claim, he really started from the bottom is a moot point - but now he's here, and he's not going anywhere yet.

Drake is a mass of contradictions. He is the relatable superstar, riddled with anxiety, doubt and regret just like the rest of us.

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Should not be making up staff in today's age of social media with Youtube and all. Crowd was roaring in both sets as can't be covered up like in all days due social media.

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