Eminem. Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney. December Second, 2011.
The first of a couple of big big big gigs I attended in the last two weeks, both with striking similarities and explicit contrasts, nothing would have prepared me for what happened. But first, Mr. Marshall Mathers.
10 years ago I didn’t listen to Hip-Hop. That might not sound like much, but considering that this musical art form now constitutes so much of my every day life, it really is. I mean I always loved music, and appreciated any kind, but had you asked me who Nas was a few years back, I wouldn’t have been able to answer. Fast forward to today, & I can easily pinpoint one moment, one song, one artist that changed everything.
Eminem. Lose Yourself.
Shxt, even before that I had listened to albums like The Marshall Mathers LP, All Eyez On Me….but I never said I was a fan. That one song changed everything. The energy, rhythm, flow whatever you want to call it, even the message hit me in the face musically like nothing ever had.
So this was a big deal. A really fxcking big deal. Up until two weeks ago, I had waited for what has been almost my entire teen life for one performer. This was supposed to be huge, it was supposed to be beyond anything I had ever felt before. It was supposed to be the thrill I felt seeing Nas for the first time 3 years ago PLUS more. It was supposed to be like sex, but in musical performance form.
It was supposed to be, but, it wasn’t..
13 days on and it’s all a little underwhelming. I can’t pin it all on the actual concert itself though. Maybe it took a little too long, I can’t help but think that pre-Relapse + Recovery, this may have meant a whole lot more to me. Or maybe I’ve really lost touch of my interest in music so much so that it has crippled my emotional pull to it. The very thing that made me fall in love with it in the first place. I’m really not too sure, but in saying that, I do have a big list of gripes, or perhaps a list of big gripes with the show itself.
Firstly, and 95% of my disappointment stems from this, sound. Sound sound sound. This is far from the first Hip-Hop show I’ve been to where sound is a problem. What is wrong with this country? (Apparently all the sound guys and equipment were Eminem’s, but I don’t know about that..) On this occasion, this wasn’t just a problem, it was a catastrophe. So much so that thousands of fans have demanded refunds and in my opinion they are entirely entitled to one. I’m not talking like bass was a little flooded, or drums were a bit overbearing, no, i’m talking like, if you were anywhere in the seats, then this was “I actually don’t know what song this is. Like I seriously have no fxcking idea what song this is”. That bad. I was there for support act Lil’ Wayne. I’m not even kidding, I figured out one song that was playing, which was Bedrock, and I figured it out about three quarters into the track after I finally managed to grasp the artistic symbolism that is half-naked women having pillow fights on stage. After Mr. Weezy F. Baby had packed up and skated on out, myself and my fellow concert-goer contemplated something along the lines of “FXCK THIS!!!” and went downstairs and
demanded politely requested our tickets be changed to standing section. From there we plunged deep into the sea of sweaty, alcohol spilling, white boy rhyme spittin’ people. The sound was better. I admit that. But still not good. Not even satisfactory and considering that from this one night alone they raked in well over $7 million in ticket sales, not nearly good enough.
But to the man himself. He killed it. That’s obvious. And was never in doubt. There was never an ounce of intensity that was dropped, performance-wise. The other 5% of my gripes lies with the setlist though. This was clearly catered towards an “Australian” crowd. Which is understandable, but like, really? All three verses of Love The Way You Lie (complete with massive hobbit/transformer “actress” music video in the background) and only one of ‘Til I Collapse? Really?? I mean, I don’t even not like that song, but I would’ve offered two years of weekend labour from my first born child once he/she reached the age of 13 years old to hear Em shout “I got a list, here’s the order of my list that it’s in…it goes Reggie, Jay-Z, Tupac & Biggie, Andre from Outkast, Jada (hmm), Kurupt, Nas and then me”….I MEAN C’MON MAN!!! REALLY??? Em managed to spill out about 40 songs in the time he was on, but 35 of them were only one verse. Now I’m a fan of medleys, and there were a couple of brilliant ones in there, such as the “can I take you guys back to when I used to get fxcked up” medley, which consisted of tracks like My Name Is, The Real Slim Shady & Without Me. But for the most part it was literally song start, one verse, a hook, song finish. Not a fan of that. Would have much preferred half as many full songs, but to be honest it really wasn’t that big of a deal.
I took a lot of videos, this is not one of them. This is a far more awesome iPhone 4S recording from some dude who would have been waiting since like 10am that morning.
Needless to say, the last song/encore was just absolutely fuggin out of this planet bananas. Lose Yourself, serves as the pinnacle of so many summits, Eminem’s brilliance, his career, Hip-Hop in general etc. It was only natural that it would become the climax of his live show, and of a night that promised so much and delivered in all areas, just perhaps not enough in some of them.
The other big highlight of the night for me was seeing Royce Da 5’9 come out for Fastlane, a song I didn’t realise how much I fxcking loved until I saw it performed and was mouthing every word. Also shots to Mr. Porter aka Kon Artis for his work on mic as hype man. Sorely underrated and grossly underappreciated.
Anyways, all in all the night was enjoyable which is why it sits slightly on the positive side of the scales for me. Perhaps, very much like Eminem himself, the resulting output suffered dramatically from a plague that cripples the most confident and determined of entities. Expectation. I expected more, but Eminem is an icon, and I still got something I’ll keep in my mental banks as a few moments that were important in my lifetime.