Nicki Minaj, Comerica Theatre, 8/7/12 (VIDEO)
When I saw Nicki Minaj open for Britney Spears last year, I was majorly disappointed by her performance and implored her to bring her A-game to her headlining tour. Then, her vocals were inaudible, and her stage setup and storyline bizarre. Thankfully, on her current tour, on which she's the main act, she commanded the stage with confidence and strong vocal talent, a huge turnaround from opening up for Spears.
As with Katy Perry's explosion of color on her last tour, Minaj took her love for the color pink literally, injecting the bright hue into everything from her shoes and outfits to the lighting and stage set. Her tour, after all, was the Pink Friday Tour, named after her debut album, and it was a lot of fun to watch and listen to. While she did use a backing track, her singing and rapping skills were impressive, considering how her high-energy show had her running all over the stage.
It was nice to see the kind of pageantry in Minaj's show lacking in Kelly Clarkson's show just last week. She had costume changes and donned wigs ranging from platinum blond curls to straight dark hair, and was joined by a half-dozen dancers and a DJ in front of a colorful set that changed colors and graphics along with the music.
My favorite part was when the screens displayed Minaj's music video for "Super Bass" right at the end of the show, but the rest of the night had a simple, yet overwhelmingly colorful, display.
Not that it wasn't was sort of weird to watch something so fun and bouncy on-stage while listening to expletive-filled songs that Minaj often asked the crowd to help her sing -- even the 5-year-old kid in the audience got to watch suggestive dancing by the half-naked troupe, got to rap a myriad of F-bombs and got to join in when Minaj sang about a girl being a ho'.
While Minaj totally deserves credit for really supporting her fans (she brought about 15 of them on-stage with her during the sexually suggestive "Bedrock," including that 5-year-old), rapping about her pussy to pre-teens makes her seem a little out of touch with the audience she keeps feeding hook-heavy pop songs to.
But Minaj does seem to be embracing her pop side more than ever. It seemed like most of the songs Minaj sang during her hour-and-a-half set were hits from the radio, which was a reminder of just how prevalent Minaj has been as both a solo act and guest star. While she was doing her costume changes throughout the show, the DJ on-stage continued to play Minaj's songs, particularly those where she had guest vocals. It was an interesting choice to keep the party going with music rather than video transitions, and the crowd didn't seem to mind as they danced and sang along with as much gusto as ever.
Who knows if it was genuine or not, but Minaj really seemed impressed with the packed Arizona crowd. "What I love about doing shows is that my crowd is always so versatile," Minaj said, calling out all ethnicities to cheer for themselves one-by-one. She helped throw T-shirts to the crowd, called audience members "darlings" and "babies," and she earnestly said, "I've been all around the world, and there's not one single place that can fuck with Arizona." Thanks, Nicki.
But considering just about everyone in the crowd cheered when Minaj asked who was in school (after which she then proceeded to give a stay-in-school lesson -- "Go to school so you can say, 'I learned that shit, bitch'"), it was hard not to feel weird seeing high schoolers act all tough and not-to-be-fucked with. The youngn's cheered wildly when Minaj asked the crowd who liked big bulges, and though it's evident Minaj loves her fans, it's sort of sad to think someone with anti-feminist sentiments is someone young ladies idolize -- though she can throw one heck of a party.
Personal Bias: I went into the concert expecting a trainwreck, though I left pleasantly surprised.
The Crowd: A mix of backgrounds, mostly high school aged to 30.
Seen in the crowd: White males dancing and getting down hardcore to Minaj's raps.
Random Notebook Dump: This may have been the first concert where I heard a shout-out to single mothers.
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