Snoop Dogg, Dome, Brighton
Queens of the Stone Age, Roundhouse, London
It's hard to be offended by this neutered Dogg
Sunday 22 May 2011
When Snoop Dogg greets Brighton with a foul-mouthed tirade, is it really possible, in this day and age, to be offended? In a week when the British Minister of Justice has expressed highly eccentric views on rape, and a month when "slut walks" against police misogyny are being organised across the world, the overtly sexist lyrics of a veteran gangster rapper seem quaint and harmless.
Snoop's sexism is cartoonish (literally, in the case of Doggystyle's notorious sleeve illustration), and the dancing girls who gyrate for him in thigh-high boots, and lines like "Bitches ain't shit to me" feel like something to laugh at; no more worth getting your knickers in a twist over than a leery old AC/DC song. Maybe that's easy for me to say, but the women I speak to afterwards – nobody's idea of dumbos or doormats – agree.
The neutering of the Dogg has been a long process. It's hard to believe that the all-round entertainer we see today, with his Starsky & Hutch starring roles, is the red-top bête noire who, in his early days caused The Daily Star to run with the headline "Kick this evil bastard out!"
His microphone fist obscured by a knuckle-duster the size of a dinner plate, he's the ultimate hip-hop crowd pleaser, gleefully nuking the cliché of the rapper who turns up hours late for a cursory 20-minute PA. With a Snoop show you get almost all the hits, including the smoke-choked Dr Dre daze of "Gin & Juice" and "Next Episode" and the sparse tongue-clicking strangeness of Pharrell's "Drop It Like It's Hot".
You get tributes to Tupac, Biggie and Nate, and a House of Pain cover thrown in. But most of all, you get one skinny mofo who lopes around with charisma to burn giving an masterclass in how it should be done.
Snoop is essentially rap's Sinatra, from his unassailable longevity right down to his way of hanging just a lazy semiquaver or two behind the beat. And, like Ol' Blue Eyes in his prime, he's absolutely brilliant, beeyatch.
The trouble with being ginger isn't only that people ridicule when you stand up and say that mockery is "another form of racism". It's that you even feel a bit preposterous yourself for saying it. That's why so few of us become rock stars. And that's why Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age is such an important role model. Profoundly ginger, never dyed it black, and ladies love him.
"Welcome to my birthday party," he tells the Roundhouse, sleeves rolled up. And, to indulge himself on this personal milestone, he's turned back the clock to perform QofSA's eponymous debut in its entirety. It's a reminder of how important a band they were in 1998-2000, a time when airbrushed nu-metal still ruled the waves. QotSA's analogue sound, owing more to The Stooges than any of their peers, was – crucially – hard rock rather than heavy. A hundred tons of raw sewage is heavy, but it ain't hard.
They encore with a scattering of singles and seldom-played obscurities, which omits their three best-known tracks but finds room for the QotSA-go-Stylistics loverman soul of "Make It Wit Chu". It's all too much for one fan, who passes Homme a note. "Will you marry me? Love, Greg."
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