TWO worlds collided when the world’s most recognisable bad boy hip-hop superstar and the genteel surroundings of Bellahouston came into each other’s orbit for a few hours on a drizzly Tuesday night.
Bellahouston Park, Glasgow
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The last of the experimental trio of Glasgow Summer Sessions concerts in Bellahouston Park in the past week wouldn’t pass without a sense of lingering controversy, but it was no more or less hedonistic than any other large-scale outdoor gig held in a big city.
Residents who just wanted to take the dog for a walk understandably took the long way round.
The week’s previous two concerts had welcomed a somewhat Emperor’s New Clothes Kings of Leon and an Avicii show which was mostly spectacle over substance.
Eminem was undoubtedly the headline draw of these three names, an artist with a story as well as a bunch of songs everyone knew, and an obvious emotional pull for those fans who might not choose to sit on their hands in a concert hall but who desperately want to see and hear their life reflected back at them.
In this case Marshall Mathers, one of a continuing flow of musicians to have strode forth from the now-crumbling Motor City of Detroit, is a strange but essential kind of role model.
His early music was brash, cartoonish and filled with violent imagery aimed at those nearest to him, the Slim Shady alias he used a denial of himself.
The very best of these songs were thrown out in an explosive medley later in this show, before which he requested: “Can I take you back to the days when I used to get f***ed up?”
There was instant empathy with the crowd as he fired out My Name Is, The Real Slim Shady and Without Me, even though this method of delivery suggested they belong almost to a past life.
This was the performance of a man and an artist who has grown up the hard way, from the dedication of Cleaning Out My Closet to his parents to Love the Way You Lie to “any a’ you ladies ever been in a relationship like this”.
With his accomplice Mr Porter alongside him, a full band at the top of the skate ramp-style riser and huge screens projecting his every move, this was nonetheless a show carried every inch of the way on Eminem’s star quality.
His valedictory one-two – the rousing soft rock anthem Not Afraid and his signature declaration of finally taking responsibility in Lose Yourself – felt like some kind of catharsis. That it happened in front of “one of the livest mother****in’ crowds we ever had” wasn’t incidental.