Live Review: Kendrick Lamar @ The SSE Hydro, Glasgow

4 mins read
Credit: Jamie Harris

Kendrick Lamar has steadily become one of the kings of rap since the release of some of his earliest tracks such as ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’ and ‘Alright’. In the space of a few years, he has released albums with influences from funk to grime, which was evident in his set list for ‘The DAMN. Tour’.

The interesting thing about the audience for this concert was how diverse it was. It’s kind of hard to fathom the mass appeal that Kendrick Lamar has until you see groups of different ages and races all together, from teenagers to groups of middle-aged people. It was great to see how music can bring so many different people together.

Opening the show with a video intro of him in his own Kung-Fu style film as Kung-Fu Kenny (a name he frequently refers to himself as throughout his most recent album DAMN.), he really set the tone for the hour and a half rap extravaganza.

Rising up through the stage floor and starting the set with the thumping bass and belting chorus of ‘DNA.’, the crowd was rapturous from that point on. Even sitting up in the cheap seats, hardly anyone sat down for his whole set. Everyone was chanting along and getting lost in the music. With belting tunes like ‘King Kunta’ and ‘ELEMENT.’ early on in the set, you may have thought that the show might have lost momentum after such a strong opening but the pace never let up.

In a beautiful moment midway through the set, K. Dot performed a couple of his slower paced tracks (‘PRIDE.’ and ‘LOVE.) on a B-stage in the middle of the audience. Moments like that are always particularly spectacular in The Hydro because of its round structure making it feel even more intimate. It was at this point that everyone in the crowd had their phone lights waving in the air and it looked like a glittering sea of stars.

Credit: Jamie Harris

One slight inopportune thing at this moment was that he didn’t perform his new track with SZA ‘All the Stars’ when it looked like The Hydro was full of them. It would’ve been cool to have seen him perform some of the new stuff from his Black Panther soundtrack, but the set was still strong without them.

The concert featured a couple of other video interludes with Kung-Fu Kenny, which fitted seamlessly into his live tracks.

The tracks that received some of the biggest receptions were some of his older tracks like ‘Backseat Freestyle’ and ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’ but there was quite the moment when the entire arena was belting out ‘HUMBLE.’ without any backing track before Kendrick restarted it to perform it in all its glory.

‘The DAMN. Tour’ is a showcase of just how to do an arena show, with all the spectacle of pyrotechnics, lighting and staging as well as pure talent and a set list spanning the majority of his greatest hits to date. Kung-Fu Kenny, I salute you.

5 out of 5

Featured Image Credit: Variety/Peter Yang

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