Live Review: Lil Wayne - The Gibson Amphitheatre, Los Angeles
Mon, 30 Mar 2009 10:10:47
During "Shoot Me Down," Lil Wayne told Los Angeles's sold out Gibson Amphitheatre, "This is history in the making!" He meant it too. Eyes blazed and bloodshot staring through designer shades, he pounded the microphone stand like Jonathan Davis belting out "Daddy" during KoRn's early days. It was the perfect vision of hard rock, minus the actual hard rock itself. Lil Wayne may very well be the perfect rock star for the 21st century—downloadable, deadly and destined to leave a lasting mark on the music world.
Welcome to the second leg of Weezy's I Am Music Tour, featuring T-Pain, Gym Class Heroes and Keri Hilson. However, it's somehow even better than the late 2008 jaunt was. Wayne commanded the stage more like a rock star than a rapper. Now more comfortable with bigger stages, he stalks and prowls while dropping visceral verses and sexy choruses on each drum beat. Leaning towards the audience during the "heavier" numbers, Wayne took more pages from Chino Moreno than Tupac Shakur, but it worked for him.
With a full band and a giant stage riser, Wayne guided the crowd through hit after hit. The band injected each song with bombastic arena rock rhythms and distorted riffs. After the lights went up, Wayne sauntered up to the mic and simply said, "Let's go." The synth-y production on "Mr. Carter" took over, and the audience couldn't stop dancing from that point on. Wayne ripped through the verses as the chorus floated through the atmosphere, sending a kinetic surge through the venue.
"Mr. Carter" gave way to numerous T-Pain collaborations, including "We Takin' Over" and "Got Money." Wayne and Pain traded hooks with swagger and style, aiming right at the largely young female audience. After Pain left the stage, Wayne dipped into his mixtape catalog for the diehards, dropping a fiery "Ride 4 My ******" like an atom bomb. "Fireman" made for some awesome displays of pyrotechnics, as Wayne led a march through the funkiest Hell ever created. Young Money rapper Drake took over "Mrs. Officer" for Bobby Valentino, giving the song a new vibrancy, while Wayne blasted through an incendiary "I'm Me." Wayne clenched the mic with a tight fist and banged his head. He's a born rock star, and he's not afraid to let the world know it.
In fact, rock and roll needs Lil Wayne. The genre needs a star, and when Wayne tried his hand at the Gibson Les Paul on "Prostitute" and "Prom Queen," he brought swag back to the arenas—minus the hairspray. Too many "rock" bands remain relegated to playing tiny clubs because they can't connect with a mass audience. Wayne doesn't have that problem. He never stoops to self-indulgence; he's all about the show instead. It took a rapper to save rock; not necessarily the music but the attitude. No one's been able to successfully bring rock n' roll back into the consciousness of Facebook nation, but Weezy may be able to do it. He's got a danger a la Axl Rose and a cathartic showmanship to boot. When he finished off a somber "My Life," it was clear that he's the king.
I Am Music definitely proved worth the price of admission with its bevy of chart-topping openers. T-Pain's set was scaled back—no circus tents—but the midgets were still there. Without the actual circus, T-Pain's crazed robo-pop-rap remained the focal point. His dance moves weren't too shabby either. From "Low" to "Kiss Kiss," Pain managed to touch upon almost every smash hit he's appeared on. Gym Class Heroes played a short, but sweet set of radio anthems, while Keri Hilson rocked the house soulfully. Wayne even brought Hilson back out for "Turnin' Me On."
At the end of the day, regardless of what anyone says, Wayne can rock with or without guitars. He's made his own kind of history.