For the second time in a row, Drake came to the Twin Cities with an awesomely spectacular stage production that reiterated he’s as much a visual star as he is musical.
Unlike his 2013 show, though, the Toronto hip-hop star did not pale in comparison to the dazzling eye candy around him at Sunday’s sold-out concert at Xcel Energy Center. Drizzy, as he’s known, came out of his shell on stage as effectively as he has opened up about his every depressed, anxious, whiny or egocentric emotion on his drama-filled multi-platinum records.
Drake’s latest collection, “Views,” is the No. 1-selling album of 2016, and there was a sense around Sunday’s show that hip-hop’s new king had arrived. The real-life Aubrey Graham, 29, worked very hard to try to confirm that notion in St. Paul, only the fourth date on his Summer Sixteen Tour with Atlanta cohort Future.
Drake started out on a sparse note, opening with “Summer Sixteen” under stark white spotlights and a video backdrop with the word “revenge” emblazoned on it. That didn’t last long, though.
By the third song, “Started From the Bottom,” the backdrop expanded into a giant curved Jumbotron screen. That was soon complemented by six smaller video boxes that rose at different parts of the stage, sometimes with Drake on top of them, sometimes with him in front of them. The big show got bigger and bigger and finally turned downright dazzling during last year’s megahit “Hotline Bling,” as basketball-sized illuminated globes lowered from the ceiling and bounced and waved over fans’ heads.
The show’s hi-fi glitz may have contributed to its most troubling trait: It started 90 minutes late as fans were kept waiting outside the arena, reportedly because of delays in assembling the impressive staging.
Future’s set was cut from his planned stand-alone middle slot (as he had done at previous shows) to more of a lengthy guest appearance midway through Drake’s slot. The more interesting of the two advertised opening acts, Roy Woods, was cut altogether, while willowy voiced Toronto R&B singer DVSN only got 20 minutes (which turned out to be plenty).
With his set shortened, Future cut out all the clichéd crowd-riling antics that weighed down his Twin Cities appearance in May at the Soundset festival and impressively got down to business. His “Jumpman” was the fieriest song of the night, musically and literally (thanks to heavy pyro use), and he and Drake kicked up a mighty storm together in “Big Rings” from their fun collaborative album “What a Time to Be Alive.”
There was no threat of Future stealing Drake’s thunder, however (and thunder was actually a big part of the visual gimmickry). Drake kept his momentum up for more than 90 minutes, and the crowd kept singing along to song after song.
In the end, he didn’t have to cut his set short — though it seems he did expect fans to thank him for giving them the whole shebang. “Minnesota, you guys definitely deserve the long show,” he said at one point, words that must’ve been reassuring to those who paid for the many $300-plus platinum seats.
Drizzy saved the night’s most telling song for the end: “Legend,” in which he humbly declares, “Oh my god, if I die, I’m a legend.” That’s still mostly just braggadocio, but hip-hop’s most legendarily egotistical star, Kanye West — coming to the X on Oct. 10 — had better step up his game.