A good showman always leaves the audience wanting more, and Nicki Minaj did that Saturday night.
She burst onto the stage at quarter past nine and was done 90 minutes later. Some of her fans would have spent longer than that padding their leotards.
There was no encore, no warm up act, no intermission, and in the case of some songs not much Nicki either. The celebrity rapper could be seen wandering the stage, most notably during her homage to Marilyn Munroe, the microphone by her side as her recorded words filled the stadium.
The support act, American rapper Tyga, cancelled and was replaced by DJ Tim Phin who did a good job of reviving an enthusiastic crowd into life. The curtain was then pulled revealing Minaj cocooned in a tiny spaceship roaring to the crowd that she was a dungeon dragon, the refrain to her song, Roman's Revenge.
For reasons that are unclear, Minaj likes to be called Roman and Roman's Revenge is a full throttle attack on Lil' Kim, a 38 year old rapper many believe is the muse behind the younger singer's persona. With lyrics like "You play the back bitch, I'm in the front/ You need a job, this ain't cuttin it" nothing is held back.
The full song, which we get at the end of the night, is a duet with Eminem and is better appreciated on CD.
There was one stage set, an elaborate video display and occasional bursts of fireworks. It was well constructed but sets are not what the crowd was there to see and hear. They wanted Roman, and when they got her they were ecstatic.
Most songs were truncated, we were teased with a few bars before the music mixed elsewhere. For a generation raised in clubs where songs are sliced and reassembled like sausage meat they danced along regardless but when a full song was played the roof rattled.
Beez in the Trap was an easy song to sing along to and the crowd obliged, with special delight in belting out the more colourful profanities that define much of her work.
Likewise the catchy Super Base, and there was a howl of appreciation as she emerged in a pink car to the tune of Automatic.
Minaj is a skilled rap singer who made her reputation partly off the back of her accents and clever wordplay. None of this was on display last night. The acoustics meant it was never really possible to appreciate these talents. Her music drowned her out.
This was a shame but the audience didn't seem to mind. Vector held maybe 11,000, most who no doubt had downloaded her music for free, they knew the lyrics by heart. They wanted the experience and were willing to pay for it.
It was a good night, but it was too short, the songs merged and melded in a confused jamboree and the lady of the night seemed more of an ambassador for her music rather than it exploding from her. Some artists feed energy from the crowd and the feeling is reciprocated. Last night felt like a power-point presentation. Engaging but not enthralling.
The final set piece was the song most of know her for, Starships. Minaj ran through the motions, as did we, and then lights came on.
- nzherald.co.nzBy Damien Grant