Snoop Dogg, Wembley Pavillion, London

A Dogg on the leash and off it
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

The fans at the London leg of his second European arena tour in six months (after a hiatus of seven years) reflects the latter persona - its make up is similar to a Justin Timberlake concert, with mothers and daughters replaced by fathers and pre-teen sons.

Which would have made for some awkward reactions to the video screens opening the Snoop live experience with Corleone's Revenge, a short film starring Snoop, two semi-naked women, and some baby oil. Like a 21st-century James Bond, Snoop gets the girls, springs the honey-trap and appears on stage to a raucous reception. The aroma of marijuana is accentuated in the no-smoking arena and gives away his grand entrance.

Snoop's hair is pulled back tight into two pig tails and he's wearing a patterned navy blue and white one-piece, pyjama-suit. The backdrop is a mural of Snoop, emblazoned with "Tales From The Crip" openly referencing - as does his latest album R&G (three million worldwide sales since November) - his Los Angeles gang allegiances.

It's gangsta Snoop, he of the early 1990s when he was introduced on Dr Dre's debut The Chronic, as a chilling, sinister storyteller - a James Ellroy of thug-and-street life - who opens the show with "Murder Was The Case".

With a band (two guitars, drums, two keyboards and a DJ) and two hype-men, Snoop switches to cartoon dawg with theanthem "Gin'n'Juice", from his 1993 solo debut Doggystyle (the biggest selling debut LP in rap until 50 Cent's Get Rich Or Die Tryin' in 2003) .

Snoop asks for the middle finger to be raised and bellows: "F**k the police!", reminding us of his origins as a Long Island sidekick of Compton's NWA and his hazy, funk-based sound ("G-funk") with Dr Dre's "Nothing But A G Thing". Further boosting Snoop's 'hood credentials is a cover of Tupac's "Gangsta Party", as the rap version of Bez, Uncle June Bugg, waves a Tupac flag while shuffling across the stage.

The banter is limited to the call and response of profanities and "Lun-dun! Eng-lund!", or a spoof Radio DJ (think an American Avid Merrion) introducing songs on the video screens. A "Snoop's Upside Your Head" cover of the Gap Band's classic ushers a switching of tack to "Beautiful", one of the trio of songs (with "Signs" and "Drop It Likes It Hot"), that have taken him from A-list rapper to pop tart beloved of daytime radio and CD:UK in the last 18 months.

As if uncomfortable, Snoop slips in a verse of the murdered rapper Notorious BIG's "Hypnotize Me", but then the recognisable, nagging funk licks of Dre's 1992 classic "Next Episode" signal the switch back to karaoke Snoop.

For the first time Snoop occupies the stage alone, orchestrating a hand-clap to a house beat and mantra-like chanting of "Snoop Dog!" The build-up evolves into "Signs", with four female dancers in school gym kits gyrating like Christina Aguilera in "Dirrty". "Drop It Like It's Hot" sees Snoop bouncing. As the show is brought to a close with five minutes of shouts of "We love you Snoop" from the audience, Snoop responds with "Peace, love, peace".

Welcomed by gangsta-pimp Snoop and waved home by cuddly cartoon Snoop, the chameleon has left both camps of his audience - and those in between - sated, all without breaking into a sweat or getting out of his pyjamas.

Snoop Dogg's tour ends tonight at the Apollo, Manchester

Comments