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Live Review: Drake @ The O2, 26/03/14

So just like that, Drake’s 60 date tour has come to an end. However, the Lightskinned Keith Sweat hasn’t left the building just yet. As of 5am this morning, people have been queuing outside Browns Fashions, South Molten Street, London, for a not so secret meet and greet and the queue was already miles long as of 10am.

“Since my text message (tweets in my case) didn’t resonate, I’ll just say it here…”
[Too Much]

OK, so I love Drake. I’ve loved Drake since coming across the ‘Room For Improvement’ mixtape in around 2006. In the name of journalism, I will try my best to remain impartial, but let it be clear, I love Drake.

[Started From The Bottom]

The long gap of nothingness between opening act, The Weeknd and Drake’s entrance, although at the time seemed quite flat, was a well thought out detail. The Toronto rapper’s presence after such a long and dry spell, unleashed the fermentation of audience anticipation and sheer hysteria.

As Drake ascends through the floor, dazzling in an all-white hip-hop-meets-some-kind-of-Italian-designer-type-ensemble, he makes full use of the large circular stages. Some girls in the front row have to be carried out by medics, drinks spill all over the place and the noise from the crowd shakes the floor.

There was a lot of dancing, which can only described as the moves you would do in your front room after several glasses of wine, alone, where nobody can see…alone. But it’s Drake. Drake has a way of making odd things work. He has built his career on it in many ways. You had no choice but to appreciate the dancing. It’s Drake.

During ‘Tuscan Leather’ there was a fitting tribute made to Whitney Houston who’s ‘I Have Nothing’ is sampled on the track. At first, from where I was sitting (right of stage), this looked slightly bizarre. There was the dancing (mentioned above) and Drake mouthing Whitney Houston lyrics, with his eyes closed and his back to the audience – bizarre right? – but when you incorporate the big screens it all made sense. A visual which resembled a bright star was shown whilst the first few lines from ‘I Have Nothing’ were played. It was actually very sweet and touching tribute when taken in properly.

“How this nigga working like he got a fucking twin though?”
[Tuscan Leather]

After 60 shows, across 12 countries I was shocked at how fresh the delivery and stage presence appeared to be, breath control is superb and all notes are hit. At one point it is even stated that some days of the tour have felt like a job/chore, whereas some days can feel amazing depending on the crowd. Then there are the usual ‘shout outs to London. You’ve been amazing tonight’ etc… I ask the PR if he uses these lines at every city, changing the name each time, she assures me he does not. I believe her.

“I got one reply for all your comments, fuck what you think. I’m too busy, that’s why you leave a message.”
[Tuscan Leather]

The day before tonight’s show, Jay Z had released a track using Drake’s ‘We Made It’ instrumental and calling Drake ‘Mrs. Drizzy’. The hip hop blogosphere went into overdrive. Fans were taking sides and attacking each other via social mediums. It had been the elephant in the arena since the doors opened. However, during his performance of ‘We Made It’ Drake makes a point of saying ‘nobody can sing this song better than me’. I’m taking that as an indirect reply and also that Drake is aware, but isn’t really that bothered. Fuck what you think.

“I’m on a roll like Cottonelle, I was made for all of this shit.”
[All Me]

We run through all the current material and a throwback section of Drake classics. It takes me back to seeing Drake at Hammersmith Apollo at one if his first London appearances. He has come such a long way. The arena is full to capacity, Rihanna is spotted in the crowd, Jhene Aiko and The Weeknd are brought out as special guests to perform and they both thank Drake for making their careers happen. I ask a different PR if this is scripted. She assures me it is not and I believe her.

“Look at you, look at you and look at you…”
[Worst Behaviour]

Drake then takes to an additional piece of the stage that extends out over the standing section of the crowd. He says hello to fans, acknowledges as many birthdays, flags and Drake merchandise wearing fans as he can. Even though Deake didn’t see me, it was special.

“Tonight was your night, go get you some lobsters and shrimp…”
[305 To My City]

In essence, Drake put on a stellar performance. It’s difficult to write about a rap concerts. I attend a lot, and aside from seeing the artist in the flesh, at times, there really isn’t that much more to write. Rap concerts can be quite flat. Rap concerts at arena level are very difficult to pull off – unless of course, you are Kanye West. Drake’s lighting, fireworks, cool and carefully selected visuals, coupled with an excellent back catalogue and current album, made for a more than satisfactory effort. I’ve seen Drake go from strength to strength and I cannot wait to see him on tour again.


- Trina John-Charles

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