Minutes after bringing a middle-aged Atlantan on stage and sweetly serenading her with “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” Drake spat some heavy threats on another new song, “Worst Behavior.” Such is the duality of Aubrey Graham. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” is a refreshing, though slightly misplaced, piece of ear candy dropped in the middle of Drake’s third LP, Nothing Was The Same. “Worst Behavior” is more indicative of its overall sound. Drake’s lashing out with previously unseen confidence, something reflected in his Would You Like A Tour? show.
The tour boasts an impressive lineup. Alt-R&B mainstay Miguel demonstrated the frantic, masterful showmanship that convinced him he could totally make that Billboard Awards Show jump. The performance did feel a little constrained though. Drake shielded his own elaborate stage setup with a giant black curtain, an understandable move that unfortunately allowed his openers little room, especially Miguel who had to account for a tiered mini-stage and full band. Though crammed, the band was tight and clearly enthusiastic. On several occasions, they performed extended instrumental outros to songs while Miguel leaped and slid between tiers during set highlights “How Many Drinks?” and “Use Me.” He pleased newer, pop-oriented fans with an exceptional rendition of Mariah Carey collab “#Beautiful,” catered to more seasoned ones with debut single “All I Want Is You” and closed with chart-topping favorite “Adorn.”
It’s a shame more people hadn’t shown up earlier to catch Atlanta’s own Future (and unlisted first act, recent OVO Sound signee PartyNextDoor). Though a surprisingly booming “Honest” became one of my main takeaways from the show, he didn’t shine brightest until his second set halfway through Drake’s. Smartphone flashlights illuminated the stage during a rousing “Turn On The Lights,” adding to the dizzying spectacle of the Would You Like A Tour? show – a show which, in addition to some extra Future, also featured a short DJ set, a Jhené Aiko appearance, captivating visuals and some individual fan shout-outs delivered from a moving platform.
Drake himself rose to his tilted, circular stage by scaling what was basically a pool ladder to the warped Whitney Houston sample that dominates show opener “Tuscan Leather.” He sandwiched Take Care highlights “Headlines” and “Crew Love” between the first and third verses, one of the few instances in which he performed older material. Obviously he’s touring to support Nothing Was The Same, but considering the hits under his belt, it was surprising to hear every song off the album but “Too Much,” including all three deluxe bonus tracks.
Set highlights included a tender “From Time” performed with the featured Jhené Aiko herself, a revelatory “Fuckin’ Problems” and “305 To My City” during which Drake addressed individual fans throughout the entire arena by their distinct features. He explored every corner of the venue, elevated high above the crowd, and spent the most time with fans in the cheap seats, a move I admired. This attempt to personally relate to the individuals forming his massive audience underscored the duality and sensitivity that still color his music, even if he’s starting to let some hubris show.