Nicki Minaj, Hammersmith Apollo, London
Risqué rapper hits high and low notes with a mix of feistiness and filth
Teenage girls, schoolboys, rockers, hip-hop lovers, mums, grandmas, and plenty of grown men: Nicki Minaj's screeching sold-out crowd is as diverse as the characters the Trinidad-born, Queens-raised rapper/singer shape-shifts through during her lengthy set.
"Before I even dreamt of coming here, I knew I would love you," she gushes during one of many emotional outbursts at this, the last night of her first-ever London shows to promote her 2012 album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.
Cloaked in black, standing on top of dark staircases amid a set lit by flames and TV screens made to look like stained glass, Minaj – real name Onika Tanya Maraj – begins with a cage-rattling rendition of "Roman's Revenge".
In a flash, the random religious imagery is gone and Minaj – now flaunting her petite Barbie-doll figure in sparkling neon pink hot pants – is pure feistiness and filth as she barrels through "Did It On 'Em", "I Am Your Leader" and the spitting razor-sharp curses of "Beez in the Trap". The result is impressive. But when children in the crowd chant the X-rated lyrics from "Come on a Cone" back at a beaming bubblegum-sweet Minaj, the atmosphere turns more grotesque than gutsy. This time, the result is uncomfortable, and is just one of many contradictions in Minaj's performance, which veers wildly between tour de force mixtapes and dull DJ sets during her lengthy costume changes, sublime pop (especially on radio hit "Starships") and wet balladry, fearsome swagger and ridiculously amateurish choreography.
Minaj is also not ashamed of being "weird". The 29-year-old says she began creating alter egos when she was a child to escape from her less-than-rosy home life and is admirably open about her father's alcohol and drug problems. But onstage, the personas, such as her British character, Martha Zolanski (with dodgy accent), seem childish and half-baked.
When Minaj invites a group of her fans to the stage, it is clear she also enjoys her status as an unconventional role model. "It's kids like this that make me love what I do," she says with sudden sincerity.
The appeal of her many peaks and troughs – intriguing to start with – soon wears thin. Minaj – a shrewd businesswoman as well as an entertainer – may offer something potent to everyone, but it dilutes her undeniable charisma.
If she focused her talents, Nicki Minaj has what it takes to become a true superstar.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
- 2 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 3 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 4 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 5 George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
Great British Bake Off 2014: Ofcom receives 13 complaints about Baked Alaska episode
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >