Friday, January 18, 2013

Live Review: Kendrick Lamar, O2 Academy, Newcastle, 1/15/2013

Kendrick Lamar may be in the midst of his first ever U.K. tour, but for many it already seems as though the 25-year-old has nothing left to prove. His are of course exceptional circumstances - what with the stream of acclaim and accolades launched in his direction these past few months - so it was inevitable that expectations were high among those who packed the floor of Newcastle's sold out O2 Academy. It said a lot, then, that the Compton native's hour and a quarter onstage proved anything but an anti-climax; his performance catered to every section of his following and all but confirmed his status as hip-hop's hottest current property.

Given that virtually everyone in attendance was seeing Lamar for the first time, it was understandable that many turned up anticipating a show built around the success of good kid m.A.A.d city, with the odd Section.80 track thrown in to flesh things out. What we got, however, was so much more than that - a setlist which took in not only fresh material and tracks from his iTunes-only debut, but also guest appearances for other artists and tracks from the relatively unheralded mixtapes with which he first made waves. Moreover, this was a night which avoided the bravado and ego-stroking typically associated with the genre, and instead sought to emphasise the common ground between the man onstage and his adoring audience, who to their credit were only too happy to lap up the lesser known cuts.

That said, highlights by and large came from familiar sources, namely a run from the new record which was frankly nothing short of ridiculous. Whether it was the devastating impact of "Backstreet Freestyle," the towering liquor-drenched "Swimming Pools" or the ensuing chaos of "m.A.A.d city," every verse was nailed with nary a hint of pretense or complacency, all whilst boasting the type of rough, real-world conscience even white kids on the other side of the globe can relate to. Come the end of his set, Lamar singled-out an individual he'd noticed belting out every last word of even his most obscure number - an all time first apparently. Clearly taken-aback, the fan was exhibited before the crowd and promptly led backstage, but not before his hero had vowed to return on the back of his dedication alone. Presuming he keeps his word, we'll all know who to thank.


Official website

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