By Christina Croucher
Date / Venue: Monday February 23rd, Vector Arena, Auckland
The rows of Vector Arena were packed out with Drake fans already dancing to bassy hip-hop tracks waiting for the rappers first entrance onto the NZ stage. The arena which seemed to become Auckland's biggest nightclub was overflowing with bodies, but not a seat was occupied.
What an entrance; fire bombs and huge amounts of floor-rattling bass as Drake marked the stage with his presence for the literally screaming crowd. The crowd chanted "Drake" making Drake come to a rapid conclusion that it may be his loudest crowd yet. The stage seemed stretched out due to the minimal presence of the key player and drummer who were both tucked away behind Drake's spotlight, but Drake had no problem keeping the stage and the crowd at close grip for the 2 hour set.
An explosive, though intimate performance from Drake made for electric chemistry between him and the audience; he looked after his fans with conversation, pre-word to some of his songs and specific attention to people in the crowd. He energetically used every crevice of the space even making a few appearances on a small central stage mid- crowd which made the already crazy crowd, crazier.
The set list was generously served to the fans who knew his tracks word for word; including the few tracks played off his unexpected new album, If Your Reading This It's Too Late. He didn't fail to play any of the well-known favourites including; Take Care, Worst Behaviour, Hold On - We're Going Home, The Motto and the party track Tuesday which had the audience jumping.
The music is not going to fulfil anyone wanting to experience the musicality of a full live band, the backing tracks are used unashamedly to re-create the studio sounds that his fans know and love, but this doesn't take away from the raw talent of Drake's performance, rapping and the quality of the beats. He delivered what, if not more than what people came to see.
2 Chainz came out for his part in All Me, and to close the show was Started From The Bottom, which was one of the best of the night. Rather than a classic encore, Drake followed through with his familiar demeanour saying "You are the greatest crowd I've ever seen" and "This might be my favourite show I've ever played".
NZ is hungry for international music and Drake did not fail to give 110% heart and performance to them.