Live Review: A$AP Rocky, Raury

18 February 2016 | 2:02 pm | Joel Lohman

"Rocky comes across like a restaurant manager, often doing little more than strutting around the stage, asking if everyone's having a good time."

More A$AP Rocky More A$AP Rocky

Despite an admirable effort on Raury's part, his ambitious gospel/hip hop/folk songs don't quite connect with the largely uninterested crowd. Acoustic guitar and live drums are a nice touch, but the suspicion that much of what we're hearing is pre-recorded detracts from his passionate performance.

A$AP Rocky and three hype men burst onto the stage all guns blazing (not literally, but that seems to be the vibe they're going for). It is undeniably exciting to see a rapper of Rocky's calibre in the flesh doing what he does, at least at first. This feeling starts to fade when it becomes clear that the show consists mostly of the guys on stage yelling at us to "turn the fuck up" or "make some noise". The most exciting moments often come when large swathes of crowd rap every word in a verse or hook back at the stage, as demonstrated in Multiply or Hella Hoes. An a cappella version of Rocky's verse on Fuckin' Problems is a great moment, but much of the momentum is lost when he repeats the same verse over with music. The bowel-rumbling bass of that song highlights one of the issues with tonight's performance: the speakers simply can't handle this much bass at this volume, so even the more sonically diverse songs are reduced to almost indistinguishable audio mush.

The show takes a bizarre turn when, after declaring they want to share some of their personal music taste with us, the speakers start blaring House Of Pain's Jump Around, during which they do just that, joyfully, but not much more. After about a minute of this, the DJs switch tack and we hear the opening chords of Smells Like Teen Spirit followed by a verse, bridge and chorus. These songs draw the biggest reactions from the crowd so far, but given they'd have the same effect if played off YouTube at a house party, it feels a bit like cheating.

Eardrum-shaking gunshot sound effects ring out through the arena between songs, ensuring there is never a dull moment. Moody recent single L$D provides a welcome change of pace with some more melodic rapping. Rocky comes across like a restaurant manager, often doing little more than strutting around the stage, asking if everyone's having a good time. He attempts to make tonight feel special, saying things like, "They're telling me I gotta get off, but I don't wanna leave". It's unclear who "they" are, but there's no way they're telling him to wrap it up 45 minutes into the set. After a couple more songs, Rocky unceremoniously exits the stage, leaving us wondering if he'll come back. But no. That's it. A beat is still playing and a couple of his hype men linger on stage but people are filing out of the arena in droves. After little more than an hour, the show is over, undoubtedly leaving some in attendance feeling as if they've been swindled.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter