Graham Clark, Music Features Writer

Kendrick Lamar Surprises In Spectacular Style

Photo Credit: Greg Noire
Photo Credit: Greg Noire
Kendrick Lamar is an artist who has never really been on my radar - I knew of his Rap tracks, though they never seemed to have much appeal, latterly his work has encompassed more soulful tracks such as Count On Me which hinted that there was much more going on here than I knew. Was it too late for me to join the party?

Arriving at the Leeds Arena feeling like a gate crasher to a private party, the first thing that became apparent was the adulation his fans have for him; never have I seen the merchandise desks having to be roped off to keep the huge queues orderly - if his fans were eager to buy any item with his name on, what would their reaction be when he arrived on stage?

I was soon to find out. When Lamar arrived on stage it bordered on the hysterical - clearly, I had been missing something. Unlike his peers such as Drake and Kanye West, Lamar is more of a showman albeit with limited props - such as holding up a dummy which appeared to be himself as if he were trying to hide behind a mask. If his last album Mr Morale and The Big Steppers is anything to go by his status as a huge superstar seems to be an uncomfortable one if you listen closely to the lyrics.

Surprisingly, Helen Mirren's voice is heard at various intervals as if a therapist was giving advice to a patient. "You could be anywhere in the world but tonight you are right here at the greatest show on Earth" he offers not that any affirmation was needed.

Split into various sets such as Element, Humble, Loyalty, Lust and Love he made the bare stage come alive, simple light lighting complemented the black and white his eleven dancers wore, though everything in Lamar's world sometimes seemed full of trauma - he even gets a Covid test from the dancers three quarters way through the gig as they deem him to be "contaminated" though it does not stop him delivering a blistering version of Alright.

There seemed to a lot of undercurrents going on, the meaning of which have only come to light in my mind days after the Leeds show. To call him a Rap star would be a huge disservice to him as there is another side to discover such as a great performer and probably one of his generation's unlikely superstars.

As the spectacle progressed the mosh pit was rewarded with Vent as Baby Keem arrived on the stage, though it was his softer tracks where he really shined.

Ending with Savior the track made a final impression as he disappeared from the stage - no encore was needed - he had said all he needed to say. The party had ended ... for now.