Live Review: Snoop Dogg @ Rod Laver Arena

6 March 2023 | 8:58 am | Madison Thomas

Snoop Dogg has lived a thousand lives in one, with no signs of slowing down.

(Pic by Lucinda Goodwin)

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After a scuttled 2022 tour, Snoop Dogg returned to Melbourne after an almost decade-long absence, bringing Detroit’s D-12 along with him for good measure. 

Weaving past streams of already slightly wobbly punters carefully balancing trays of $10 beers as they find their seats, D-12 take the stage. Well, the remaining members of the Detroit rap collective, anyway. Best known for their early work with former member Eminem, on paper, this seems like an uphill battle. Still, Swifty McVay and Kuniva approach their set with a bombastic, infectious dose of good humour and admirably fulfil their mission to punch up the hype. 

Having lost touch with my D12 CDs in my late teens, it was a genuinely unexpected joy to be reacquainted with their short, sharp renditions of their greatest hits. Having two members covering six parts could be a recipe for failure, but the now two-piece take it in stride, cutting up songs where needed and acknowledging their missing members. They’re unbelievably likeable, hamming it up, mugging for the fans and winning the entire crowd over before they close the set with their best-known tune Purple Pills.

Taking stock of the near-capacity audience as we wait for showtime, it’s clear that the gang is all here - eshays, staunch-as gym bros, mums in sparkly skirts, teenagers with mullets, hipsters, even small children (whose delighted reactions to a set absolutely not suitable for children is a secondary source of entertainment). 

The cross-section of punters reflects Snoop himself - there’s Snoop the gangster, Snoop the philanthropist, Snoop the investor, Snoop the bestie of Martha Stewart, Snoop the actor, Snoop the children’s show entertainer, Snoop the pimp. He’s lived a thousand lives in one, with no signs of slowing down.  

Snoop joins us on screen, taking us through his pre-show outfit choices and then there he is - The Dogg Father, strutting out in a Crip blue bandana print boiler suit to The Next Episode, his waist-length dreads swaying behind him. 

Unfortunately, the first 30 seconds are marred by mic issues, though things are quickly resolved before they can really derail the show, we begin our hour-long, white-knuckle ride through Snoop’s extensive back catalogue. Gin And Juice has anyone previously resisting the urge up on their feet and dancing, as the four glistening poles on the stage are adorned by four equally glistening pole artists contorting their limbs to impossible angles. 

Up & Downs, a more reflective offering, has punters feeling the love, or perhaps that is an after-effect of the thick clouds of weed smoke hanging over the venue. The security who initially pounced on those sneaking a cheeky vape inside pre-show seem to have given up when faced with the colossal task of butting out the rotating joints circulating through the crowd, especially when Snoop himself retreats behind the DJ booth for smoke breaks throughout the show. 

Whether it’s spitting his featured verse on Katy Perry’s California Girls, or on DJ Khaled’s All I Do Is Win (proving that even when DJ Khaled isn’t in the building, it’s only a matter of time before you hear him shouting his own name over the speakers), Snoop shows over and over again why he is usually the best part of any song he appears on. Sexual Eruption is so deliciously horny that it’s not hard to get carried away, delivered with a tongue-in-cheek smile from Snoop himself. 

Wet has Snoop shooting notes out of a red Supreme money gun into the crowd and over the bodies of the pole artists on stage, who really deserve a mention all on their own, as their athleticism is a thing of wonder. “Shout out to all the real mutha fuckin’ fans who’ve been down for Snoop Dogg since 1992,” he drawls as What’s My Name pumps out of the speakers. The instantly recognisable singalong sadly signals that we are at the pointy end of our time with the Dogg. He closes up with a gentle rendition of Young, Wild & Free, and it’s another goosebump-inducing moment. 

As he slowly makes his way from the stage, he calls, “my name is Bigg Snoop Dogg, and I love y’all… Peace, love and soul”. It feels as though the set is over in record time, possibly because it is one of the most entertaining shows this writer has ever seen.  

This has been one of the most challenging shows this writer has ever had to review, for no other reason than it was so goddamn good. Taking notes becomes a fool’s errand because the simple process of tearing one’s eyes away from the stage for even a second means something will be missed. 

From the second Snoop takes the stage, all 6’3 of him, he does not take his foot off the gas. Every song is a highlight because his solo music is infinitely beloved, and his choice of collaborations has led to some of the most iconic releases in the last 30 years. Everyone from your mum to your little cousin can name a Snoop song; such is the breadth of his appeal. 

Heading out of the venue, it’s a chaotic mass of very stoned but very happy punters. Young, wild, and free.