Gig review: Nicki Minaj, SSE Hydro Glasgow

Nicki Minaj just about managed to string a stage show out of her rap material. Picture: Getty
Nicki Minaj just about managed to string a stage show out of her rap material. Picture: Getty
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THE last time Nicki Minaj graced the Hydro stage in a variety of gaudy outfits while proclaiming her love for diverse aspects of Scottish cultural life, she was presenting the MTV EMAs to a global audience.

Nicki Minaj

Hydro, Glasgow


On the final date of her Pinkprint world tour, there was no need to share the limelight with any other troublesome egos or, indeed, musicians.

Her band were at points squirrelled away from sight, required to dispense the bass-heavy backing track, leaving Minaj free to commune with her dancers and declaim to her public.

The challenge with Minaj, and arguably any rapping pop star, is to develop an arena extravaganza for a performer who isn’t a song and dance woman and a live gig for an artist whose music is precision produced in the studio.

Following the Beyoncé model, minus the mighty pipes and athletic jigging, the show was punctuated by arty film clips and pretentious voiceovers signifying nothing.

During the oddly downbeat opening section, Minaj stalked the stage dressed in flamboyant mourning with dry ice lapping at her heels while veiled dancers threw shapes in the murk to denote the melodrama of the autobiographical All Things Go. Minaj, however, was more convincing as an irreverent agitator.

She elicited the first big cheer of the night by making a universally understood gesture of disapprobation, and held the heterosexual men in the audience in a double bind during Lookin’ Ass, by berating sexist behaviour while simultaneously drawing attention to her cosmetically enhanced posterior.

Eventually, she took a break from the twerking and crotch rubbing to call for a cover-up kilt. She got a tartan rug for her trouble.

As the evening progressed, Minaj rapped less and sang more – not a trajectory which did her any favours. She lacked the emotional heft to pull off a ballad-oriented segment at the grand piano and, perversely, wasn’t even on stage during the performance of one of her biggest hits Bang Bang.

But bewildering though the show concept was, some cool tracks emerged from the seamless soundtrack, including the lean Beez in the Trap with Minaj at her waspish best, the pop fix of Superbass and dancefloor banger Pound the Alarm which shook the room before Minaj re-emerged in a pink wig to deliver some fairy godmother advice of a cod-inspirational nature before rounding off with the catchy, cartoony Starships.

Seen on 12.04.15