Nicki Minaj at The O2, Dublin

Nicki Minaj at The O2Dublin, Monday the 5th of November 2012

Sitting down in The O2 tonight is like being in a nightclub on junior cert results night. Nicki Minajhas found an avid following among the 14-20 age group here in Ireland and The O2 is like a massive creche nightclub.

The theme of the show would be pounding bassline, electronic overtones and bubblegum costumes as the pop / dance / hip-hop star took to the stage of The O2 amid deafening screams. Emerging from a rocketship singing Come On A Cone and rattling through six or seven tracks, only stopping to give us her first set of Dublin orientated platitudes. The razor sharp tongue of Twitter is licking up to the Irish crowd. She echoes sentiments of staying in school and not “giving your cookies away to every Tom, Dick and Harry”, pointing to her lower area indicating a ‘less is more’ sex message of some description. This family friendly messaging is completely at odds with her foul-mouthed lyrics.

The stage is a visual playground, where Minaj and her dancers bounce around, climbing stairs, shaking ass and sliding down poles through the backdrop of the ever-changing visuals, which transport the setting from a hotel to a submarine to graffiti walls. It’s the break up of the acts (of which there are four or five) to facilitate wardrobe changes that add flatlines to the performance. There was at least two occasions where a Minaj track is playing over the P.A. but she isn’t on stage. This includes Superbass, where she sings most of the song but leaves a vocal track to finish the song as she heads off stage. A DJ then takes over for three or four quick songs, something which occurs at each interval. While we recognise the need for some time to facilitate costume changes, the DJ was awful and truly twisted a dagger in a flagging concert.

The returning Minaj from each interval greets us with something new. Entering in a gaudy pink hot-tub,  leading into Right Thru Me and Marilyn Monroe before retreating behind the DJ again, only to return in a bubble gum pink car. Minaj engages in some interactions with the crowd at the front, allowing them to answer questions via the mic, resulting in over-exciting screaming and trembling hands from those who receive her attention.

A strong ending to the show includes Roman Holiday, Roman Revenge, Monster (Kanye Cover),Bedrock (Young Money cover) and  an encore of Starships wraps the show up neatly. It’s a show that was visually impressive, with stunning backdrops that complement the songs very well. T-shirt cannons during one of the intervals was a nice touch to help take the focus off the length of Minaj’s disappearance. Overall musically we’ve certainly been at better gigs for our personal tastes, but we can’t deny that the crowd in attendance were up for every word of every song. Singing loudly word for word and creating a surreal atmosphere; for us, the vigour of the crowd was one of the highlights. We were worried at the age of the crowd when paired next to the sexual nature of the performance and overtly filthy lyrics, but truly that worry is for the parents who buy their kids her album.

That aside, her chart tracks were the only stand out moments among a set list heavy with covers of tracks she contributed to. The DJ intervals killed any momentum gained. For an independent viewer it was a hard show to enjoy, with rare moments of engagement in the performance. If filthy RnB and pop are your bag, you may well have enjoyed that show. As a reviewer that this year alone has seen Steps, Backstreet Boys and Watch The Throne, it doesn’t even compete with the best pop and RnB shows in town this year.Cue street-team.

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