Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Concert review: A$AP Rocky, Vector Arena

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Prince wasn't the only purple-obsessed performer in town last night. Chris Schulz reviews A$AP Rocky's third New Zealand appearance.
A$AP Rocky's Auckland concert was more of a rave-rap riot than classic hip-hop show. Photo/Getty
A$AP Rocky's Auckland concert was more of a rave-rap riot than classic hip-hop show. Photo/Getty

With 10 majestic white pillars and dual DJ towers bathed in purple hues on stage, you couldn't help but think you'd stumbled into the wrong venue at Vector Arena last night.

Thanks to another purple-obsessed performer playing two shows across town, the buzz around the third New Zealand appearance and first stadium show by A$AP Rocky had been somewhat dimmed.

But from the moment the Harlem rapper hit the stage with the explosive fury of Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2, Rocky seemed determined to make sure he was the sole focus of the venue's young, drunk, sweaty and shirtless fans.

Backed by several of his A$AP Mob collective, Rocky delivered a stop-start show that made up for lyrical inanities - "Yes, I'm the s***, tell me do I stink?" is one particular clunker - by throwing a walloping rap party that felt more like a hyper-real rave than a classic rap concert.

It was also one that proved Rocky, real name Rakim Mayers, does not know how to make an understatement.

During M'$, his money-loving ode to extreme wealth and a head-spinning highlight from last year's excellently trippy album At. Long. Last. A$AP,
the 27-year-old's chorus was punctuated by cannons shooting hundreds of fake bank notes into the air.

He managed to top those antics during Wild For the Night, his spazzy collaboration with dubstep guru Skrillex that adds spiralling synth riffs to his distorted vocals, with bursts of steam shooting up those pillars while glitter bombs erupted overhead.

With girls hoisted onto shoulders, braided fans on stage dancing behind Rocky, and a rammed floor crowd determined to party like it was 1999, there were times tonight's show felt like it was bordering on mayhem - especially during his breakthrough single Goldie, or the taught grind of Electric Body.

It certainly bore little resemblance to Rocky's 2013 Logan Campbell Centre performance, much of which was delivered solo in front of velvet red curtains and felt laidback compared to tonight's ridiculously hyper show.

That meant the mellow moments came as a relief, with the true highlight coming in the form of L$D, Rocky's trippy ode to drugs that masquerades itself as a love song. It discovers just how low and grimey Rocky's bass lopes can get, his spacey vocals mixed down to a woozy slur.

With Rocky floating around the stage in front of tie-died visuals splashed across those purple pillars, it was almost enough to brand Rocky as the prince of rap once and for all.

If only there wasn't another Prince in town.

Who: A$AP Rocky
Where: Vector Arena, Auckland
When: Wednesday, February 24

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