Drake And The Lights – The Boy Meets World Tour Review
The thought of paying £99 a ticket (+ service fees) for a concert at The O2 shocks most and I’ll admit when I saw the price I was a little taken aback myself. But having been almost three years since Drake’s last European tour I knew my money already belonged to him.
Throughout the summer, footage from Drake’s Summer Sixteen tour showcasing the spectacle of lights and set design curated in collaboration with Guy Pavelo flooded my feeds on multiple social media outlets. I watched every video in awe, and knew that the European tour would be something special.
Lets backtrack a little to when Drake’s headlining The Away From Home Tour had Francis and the Lights open for the North American dates. An ominous, tremendously talented character with deep roots throughout the music industry, Francis uses the lighting on stage to enhance his performance and I think Drake learned a lot from him.
From posting photos on Instagram of a visit to LACMA to see James Turrrell’s work, to releasing the incredibly well received and meme-ified (that’s a word right?!) video for the double Grammy award winning Hotline Bling, anyone with a keen eye for modern art can see where Drake took inspiration from.
Enough history, back to the review…
Being an avid modern art fan in particular of artists that use the manipulation of light in their pieces, I didn’t hesitate to purchase tickets for multiple events to enjoy the experience at different angles, and boy was that the right decision.
The show began as the sea of lights lowered just above the stage and standing audience as Building A Ladder by Hiatus Kaiyote (sampled in the opening track of More Life) played softly. The braggadocious beat of Trophies blared through the speakers as Drake ascended through a trap door. He took a moment to absorb the atmosphere before beginning his performance.
The diversity of Drake’s repertoire is astounding. His ability to sing melodies that steal the hearts of women everywhere and to spit 64 bars on a track with no hook is ridiculous. Once the crowd were warmed up from the intro, the set list cycled through some stand out tracks from his newest album Views and then pursued through a string of some of his biggest hits, much to the audiences delight.
In the seven years since the Away From Home Tour, Drake has evolved a lot as a performer. The breadth of music knowledge the October Firm possesses is evident through the levels of production and references in his songs and the uniqueness of his collaborations. Particular highlights of the show include a moment early on, where he croons over a stripped back version of Feel No Ways as his pianist plays the keys softly in the background as the lights dimmed to a cool blue. Following this, in typical Drake fashion, was a series of personalised shout outs to both audience members and some of his friends. This guy has an impeccable ability to make every single person in a room of thousands feel special. Maybe this is part of the reason The xx took direct inspiration from Drake to title their latest album “I See You”.
The use of colour and movement of the lights was clever to evoke the emotion of whichever song was being performed. A single orb of light slowly descended towards Drake in the centre of the stage; Timmy Thomas’ Why Can’t We Live Together played whilst he interacted with it. This swiftly transitioned to the recognisable punchy intro of Hotline Bling as the audience cheered in anticipation of what was going to happen next.
On top of all this, each London date had multiple surprise guests come out to which the audience was incredibly grateful. The first show I attended, February 4th, Dave came onstage to perform Wanna Know to probably the biggest crowd he’s ever seen let alone perform for. On March 20th, Drake pulled out all the stops for the grand finale of his residency of The O2. Jorja Smith, Trey Songz, Giggs, Skepta, Nicki Minaj and Popcaan all came out to roaring cheers from the crowd.
For the closing segment, Director X’s art installation Death of the Sun inflated on the centre stage. Drake circled the globe to hype the crowd during the final few songs, and again took a few moments to watch the arena in awe. It was humbling to watch him grin ear to ear in reaction to the crowd’s glorious applause. Being the biggest Hip-hop artist in the world, you’d expect him to be used to all the commotion around him, his response suggests otherwise. Drake started making music with the intention of making the soundtrack to people’s lives, and right now he’s living it.
Charlotte Pollins | Instagram @amindtowander