Drake – review

O2 Arena, London

Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse once created a character whose response to news of unimaginable good fortune, particularly on the part of celebrities, was to narrow his eyes and cry: "Yes, but is he happy?" It's hard not to think that Drake is a pop star said character would appreciate. On the cover of his second album, the multi-platinum Take Care, he stares disconsolately at the kind of gold, bejewelled drinking vessel his fellow rapper Lil John would call a pimp goblet, presumably ruminating, as his songs so often do, on the downside of the glittering life of a playa. Here is a man for whom the pimp goblet is always half empty. Tonight, the video screens show black-and-white footage of the detritus of a party, while Drake sings Marvin's Room: "I've had sex four times this week, I'll explain/ I'm having a hard time adjusting to fame," he croons sorrowfully, in what's surely one of pop history's more hopeless bids for sympathy.

His shtick is curious; he often emerges from his own songs as a rather unlikable and solipsistic figure. At another mind-popping juncture, the video screens show sad-faced women downing booze, while Drake sings Shot for Me, the implication being that the sad-faced women were driven to the demon drink by their unrequited love for a certain rapper. But tonight's impressively diverse audience – suburban girls Fake-Baked to within an inch of their lives next to spindly Dalston hipsters – either hasn't noticed or doesn't care: even Drake seems slightly taken aback at how much the crowd loves him.

It's occasionally a little difficult to locate exactly what they are getting so excited about. Black-clad, he spends most of Crew Love walking across the stage looking tormented, while the vocals play on a backing tape; equally, you can't deny the sheer pace of the show. The live band – complete with hair-tossing, metal-influenced guitarist – doesn't do the nuances of his sound many favours, but the speed with which songs are dispatched means that the occasional lull (as on the beatless Good Ones Go) passes almost unnoticed. Even if you're not quite as carried away as the people screaming and singing along, it's hard not to be carried along. Drake appears delighted with the way the evening is panning out. "Yeah," he smiles at one song's conclusion, "I sang that shit, didn't I?" not looking much like a man who's having a hard time adjusting to fame at all.


Alexis Petridis

The GuardianTramp

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