Live Review: Kendrick Lamar @ The O2 (13/02/2018)
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Kendrick Lamar, or Kung Fu Kenny as he now likes to be known, absolutely lit up the whole of the O2 Arena with his stage presence alone. An electric performer with tons of heart and attitude, Kenny truly shook London with his incredible shows.
The DAMN. Tour finally made it to the UK, and it was more than worth the wait. Long-time collaborator on Kendrick’s music, James Blake opened the show with some unique electric vibes. Who knew cowbells could make their way into the mainstream? It wasn’t the most riveting opening act, but Blake’s production on both the DAMN. and the recently released Black Panther albums more than earned him a spot in the stadium.
Kendrick himself opened with the now iconic “DNA”, with footage of the news presenters who deliver the skit on that track looping behind him. The use of video throughout the show was entirely unique — the audience followed a Kung-Fu inspired quest that Kendrick’s character, the Black Turtle, has to go on to discover ‘The Glow’. This narrative provided shape and humour to the show, as well as showcasing some seriously cool graphics and stylised fight sequences!
“King Kunta” from To Pimp a Butterfly was a particularly well received throwback, and Kendrick even threw in some even older tracks from his EP, “For the day one fans,”. It was the DAMN. tracks, though, that got the entire crowd jumping.
The stadium lit up more literally as phone lights came out for “PRIDE.”, with Kendrick a Messianic figure in white on a rising platform in the very centre of the audience. His explosive rapping contrasted with stretches of silence and song, keeping the audience completely engaged on the journey to The Glow that he led us on. The spirituality of the show really was something else.
The only dancer in the show, the incredible Charm La’Donna, was captivating. Her manic grace, and astonishing strength complimented the music perfectly, and her talent truly elevated the show to another level.
Throughout, Kendrick’s message to the audience was of "LOVE." and appreciation, and so the love and appreciation he was shown in return was honestly unprecedented. Halfway through the show, entirely unprompted, the crowd began chanting his name and cheering — not all that unusual. Except this went on for a solid ten minutes, and every time it started to fade, it would start back up even stronger. As it went on, the more moved Kendrick was so truly touched, and that level of adoration and admiration really does make his real and genuine humility all the more inspiring.
“That’s love. Now I gotta give all that love and energy back to you,” he said, leading in to a vibrant rendition of 'Alright' that really did seem to have the power to make everyone believe the lyrics.
Of course, the crowd managed to rap the entirety of “HUMBLE.” without Kendrick saying more than a word or two, and we were so good that he played the song twice. Ending on an encore of “GOD.” was entirely fitting. The whole show felt like a religious experience. Long live the King.