Being that this was a one-off show for Kevin Hart’s part-comedy, part-music Labor Day weekend takeover, there was an expectation that this Drake concert would be unlike any other. He was playing a smaller venue this time out: Boulevard Pool is roughly a third the capacity of MGM’s Grand Garden Area, where he performed on his last Las Vegas tour stop. Would Drake do something special to wow us? Would he debut a new verse, like he did last month during a surprise performance at J. Cole’s homecoming show? Would he bring out any collaborators? At the least, would he perform “From Time” with Jhené Aiko, who opened the evening with a sweet, but too short three-song set?
“I didn’t come to do no romantic shit,” he said after a taste of his sentimental “Hotline Bling.” Henceforth it was clear: This performance would be all about the bangers, and all about Drake.
The nearly hour-long set ran together almost like a medley, as the 28-year-old rapped (and danced) to over a dozen of his singles, featured verses and flame-throwing diss tracks. While the fast pace and short set time meant no song was played in its entirety, it made for a satisfying, high-energy performance with seamless transitions. Frequently Drake asked the DJ (his manager, Future the Prince), to cut the backing track so he could spit a cappella and let the audience sing along to his hits.
“I go by the name of Drake, and I’m from Toronto, Canada,” said the rapper as the show came to a close, as if performing in the relatively intimate venue had transported him back to his early days. Getting such a humble introduction from a platinum-selling superstar would nearly have been “wow” enough, but Drake gave much more. ★★★★✩
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Photos by Erik Kabik/ ErikKabik.com