Drake kicked off his seven-night residency at The O2 with a huge setlist to celebrate his tenth anniversary, sharing the stage with rap stars from the UK and North America.
While Drake once rapped 'turn the O2 into the O3' (and tonight the London venue rebranded in his honour) he’s clearly stepped things up a level or two since then. For the Assassination Vacation Tour the Canadian rapper brought along interactive, high-tech staging - an impressive display featuring a life-size yellow Ferrari drone that circles above the crowd and a full-screen HD floor with immersive graphics.
But it was the famous guests that truly enraptured the crowd - Giggs entered to widespread cheers, roars and screams when he joined Drake for their track “KMT”, whilst Atlantan rapper Future had the entire arena jumping during “Mask Off”. Drake has long been a vocal supporter of London’s urban music community and tonight he brought out drill rappers Unknown T and DigDat during Tiffany Culver’s DJ set, flashing up a giant Union Jack flag on the stage floor. Reaffirming his love for the capital, Drake began his show by premiering the trailer for the third series of Top Boy, coming to Netflix later this year.
Packing 40-odd tracks into a 105 minute set, the self-styled ‘Drizzy Drake’ performed 30-60 second snippets of his biggest hits, from his debut album “Thank Me Later" to last year’s “Scorpion”. The crowd were clearly happy to hear some old favourites, singing along to tracks including “Crew Love” ('Who came here with their crew tonight?!'), “Headlines” and “HYFR”. However it was recent bangers “Fake Love”, the massively popular “One Dance”, meme-starting “Hotline Bling” and dance-craze “In My Feelings” that prompted the most screams, moshing and hyperactivity of the night.
A team of female dancers kept energy levels high with their exciting routines and twerking, whilst the stage floor projected graphics of ocean waves, lava, and a flower by artist Takashi Murakami. Mid-show, a basketball court appeared onstage, mapped out by cyan laser beams, to allow one lucky fan to shoot hoops for the chance to win £20k (he didn’t).
There were also quieter moments, such as when Drake performed a ballad-version of dancehall-inspired “Passionfruit”, slowly easing into “Peak”. Whilst Drake can easily pull off a slow-jam, boasting a decent singing voice and tons of charisma, at times this can slip into cringe-inducing territory; when the Toronto native attempted his usual freestyle serenade, proclaiming “I really need a girlfriend”, it came across awkward rather than soulful.
On a sweeter note, Drake began the show by paying tribute to Nipsey Hussle, who died the day before, beaming out a photo of the much-respected artist and later taking a swig of alcohol in his memory. Addressing the crowd, Drake told them: 'Life can end at any moment, I just wanna tell you I love you and I’m thankful to be here with you tonight.'
Drake’s first night at The O2 couldn’t have gone better, with the rapper even managing to break up a fight within the crowd at the end. The man himself appeared to agree, declaring 'London, as long as you’ll have me back, I’ll stand in the middle of this building and give you everything I’ve fucking got!'
1. 8 Out of 10
2. Mob Ties
3. Started From the Bottom
4. Jumpman (Drake & Future cover)
5. Both (Gucci Mane cover)
6. Know Yourself
8. Going Bad (Meek Mill cover)
10. Yes Indeed (Lil Baby cover)
12. Crew Love
16. HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)
17. Blessings (Big Sean cover)
18. For Free (DJ Khaled cover)
19. The Motto
20. Walk It Talk It (Migos cover)
21. My Way (Fetty Wap cover)
22. TAlk tO Me ft. Tory Lanez (Tory Lanez cover )
26. Sooner Than Later
28. Work (Rihanna cover)
29. One Dance
30. Hotline Bling
31. MIA (with Bad Bunny)
32. Fake Love
33. In My Feelings
34. KMT (with Giggs)
35. Look Alive (BlocBoy J cover)
37. Sicko Mode (Travis Scott cover)
38. Mask Off ft. Future (Future cover)
39. I'm Upset
40. God's Plan