There was no mistaking where the throngs of girls - and boys dressed as girls - were heading on Saturday night, as the path to Vector became a sea of neon, tight frocks, outlandish wigs and insanely high shoes.

Yes, Nicki Minaj's "Barbz" (the name she gives to her fans, short for Barbies) were out in force to see their idol's Pink Friday: Reloaded Tour, and were dressed to the nines in tribute to the Trinidad-born, Queens-raised, potty-mouthed rapper/singer.

Local house DJ Tim Phin whipped the crowd up with a set of top 20 tunes before Minaj's opening graphics showed a cartoon pink rocket hurtling through space, then landing.

The curtain came up to reveal a real pink rocket among the stage's pyrotechnics and plumes of dry ice, from which Minaj spat out her first rap, Come on a Cone, on her glittery microphone, quickly followed by Roman Reloaded.


Fans didn't have to wait for hit song Super Bass for rib-shaking bass lines: the booming bottom end of the show was relentless from start to finish.

Minaj emerged from the rocket in an all-black outfit, her first of six.

Her stage was a two-storeyed manor which showed changing graphics on its facades, moving between a graffitied street scene to a nightclub, to Minaj's bedroom, through which the singer emerged - once in a glittery silver bath and later in an inflatable pink car.

Of course, there were two poles, which her seven dancers made the most of during some of the raunchier tracks like Dance and Whip It.

Minaj proved her hard-rapping chops when she slipped into her Roman Zolanski alter ego in among her crowd-pleasing hits Va Va Voom, Beez in the Trap, Fly, Turn Me On, and big club bangers Pound the Alarm and Automatic.

The singer met a few of her devotees in the front row, and told the audience to "keep their goodies nice and tight." She wanted to "hug you and kiss you and eat you for breakfast".

What she loved about New Zealand, she said, was that the crowd was so diverse, with so many nationalities, which "makes such a beautiful blend".

She changed for the last time for the single-song encore, Starships, which concluded the show with a spectacular curtain of golden sparks.

Those costume changes may have added to the spectacle, but the time they took led to entire songs where the stage was deserted, causing a drop in energy.

And sometimes that brain-shaking bass drowned out her clever raps, which is probably just as well considering their explicit content and the age of some of the Barbz present.

But overall, Minaj delivered an almost perfect pop show, high in theatrics with excellent stage effects - including some alarmingly large fireballs - and dripping with diversity and talent.

Though we're pretty sure she's not a real blonde...

Who: Nicki Minaj
Where and when: Vector Arena, Saturday