Alexis Petridis 

Nicki Minaj – review

For all her force of personality, Nicki Minaj seemed in somewhat restrained mode at her Hammersmith show, writes Alexis Petridis
  
  

It seems a strange thing to say about a performance that opens with a woman rapping "I'm a bad bitch, I'm a cunt," but there's something oddly restrained about Nicki Minaj's live show. Given this is a woman who staged a mock exorcism on stage at the Grammys, before being hoisted into the air on wires while singing O Come All Ye Faithful, it's a relatively stripped-down show, which cleaves more to hip-hop tradition than pop extravaganza. There are costume changes and a confetti cannon, but there's no band, just a small troupe of dancers, a DJ and a hype man.

The hype man appears to be wearing the entire stock of a branch of H Samuel round his neck, a brave attempt to draw attention to himself doomed by the fact that he's sharing the stage not merely with Nicki Minaj, but Nicki Minaj's famous buttocks. The latter are a compelling sight, reputed to have had surgical procedures visited upon them: certainly they look weirdly buoyant, like something you'd cling on to in a shipwreck. When Minaj leaves the stage to have them manouevred into a new costume, the DJ is left alone. He kills time by asking the crowd if they've got any Nicki Minaj records, as if worried they've turned up to see her by accident, perhaps after taking a wrong turn en route to the Royal Opera House.

It's not the only time the show sags, largely because of the weird decision to group the songs together generically. The opening section, which features her breathlessly tearing through her hip-hop material, is fantastic, shifting from Did It On 'Em's minimal drone to the astonishing, frenetic Stupid Hoe. But the second is given over to Minaj's take on generic Euro-house oompah, which is no more interesting than anyone else's. The audience don't seem to mind, maybe because she covers up the songs' uniformity by working harder on stage. She fires a dry-ice gun into the crowd, throws T-shirts, holds a conversation with one of her alter-egos and does her famous English accent. "I've been practising it since I was six," she tells the crowd, who scream their approval, rather than offer the most obvious response: well, stick at it, love, you might get it right in a few years.

Even the crowd wilts slightly during a third section of ballads, but come to life for the finale: back to hip-hop for Super Bass. It's clearly what she does best, and you can't help wishing she'd play to her strengths more: she's at her best when her music is as unique as she clearly is.

 

Leave a Comment

Required fields are marked *

*