Multi-million-selling New York rapper Nasir ‘Nas’ Jones concluded his previous show in Glasgow back in 2015 as part of the 20th anniversary tour for his iconic debut album Illmatic with a pledge of new material soon. Save for a handful of standalone tracks, it’s proven a mostly empty promise, leaving this show – calibrated for and slotted in amongst summer festival appearances with its mixture of mainly greatest hits and tributes to his late idols – without any particular sense of purpose.
O2 Academy, Glasgow **
“Can we start this from the beginning?” Nas inquired loudly, and nobody in the audience seemed to protest as Illmatic’s one-take-wonder of a second track N.Y State of Mind boomed from the PA. Also featuring scratch DJ Green Lantern and a versatile young drummer and vocalist who at one stage left his stool to come stage front and nail the lead line of a hip-hop re-versioning of Eurhythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), this wasn’t a performance lacking for flair.
It just felt a bit weirdly thrown together. Other menacing Illmatic classics such as Life’s a Bitch, The World Is Yours and Halftime were worked in among strange sort of half-cover, half-playbacks of songs by Nas’s dearly-departed inspirations – including Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse and Prodigy from Mobb Deep – often accompanied by surreally naff video graphics. Disposable party bounce The Don brought things up to Nas’s latest album, 2012’s Life Is Good, at the end – but self-evidently it’s time he found new focus for his live shows.