Drake makes up for lost time in Vancouver

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      At Rogers Arena on Thursday, November 28

      "Would You Like A Tour?" It was a simple enough question posed by Drake back in June when he announced his North American trek of the same name, though Vancouverites probably didn't expect it would be five months before Toronto's most sensitive son would finally hit Rogers Arena.

      A snag with the stage show postponed a September appearance in town, as well as other concerts around the continent, but fans weren't sour on Thursday night. Instead, they chose to celebrate with Drake throughout a versatile set. Considering Kanye West's twice-nixed concert at the same venue earlier this fall, the arrival of Drizzy was better late than never.

      PARTYNEXTDOOR, one of Drake's Toronto-based protégés, was set to open the night but when the lights went down, the intended four-act bill skipped straight to AutoTuned rap crooner Future. Despite the massive curtained LED screen that hung behind him, the Atlanta vocalist's allotted stage area was tiny, with both the MC and a laptop DJ pushed to the front of the stage.

      Future Hendrix ran through clappers like "Karate Chop" and the big-boom club-ballad "I Wanna Be With You".  The guy's backup tracks did some heavy lifting, but it was an earnest 20-minute performance that found him closing things out with the aptly titled "Honest".

      Up next was Miguel, who kicked up the production values tenfold. Flanked by a four-piece band, the fantastically-coiffed L.A. singer rose from beneath the stage to sing atop illuminated risers wearing a heavily-fringed black jacket.  Leathery tassels rippled during the artist's karate kicks, floor slides, crotch-ripping side splits and more.

      The showman used this agility on tracks like the erotically charged "Use Me", where he eventually collapsed in full falsetto-mode while doing some sexy leg lifts. Comparatively more low-key was "Pussy Is Mine", though the tranquil come-on seemed to collectively throw the audience into shrieks. "The truth is I am a fucking weirdo but I'm a passionate weirdo," he said late in the set, gratefully basking in the applause and thanking the crowd ahead of an extended run-through of his sensual hit single "Adorn".

      As awe-inducing as Miguel was, he was all but forgotten by the time Aubrey Drake Graham showed up on stage to the wobbling synth tones of Nothing Was the Same's "Tuscan Leather".  Appearing on a pearl oval stage, the MC instantly hit "heights that Dwight Howard couldn't reach". A quick shift in sonics had the dude "overdosed on confidence" on "Headlines," bouncing wildly to beat, as well as to the punchy drum bursts of "Crew Love". The Weeknd didn't make it in the flesh to sing the latter's hook, instead appearing in backing-track form, but that didn't stop Drake from sending the song out to buds arena-wide. "If you came here with your real friends and not your fake friends make some fucking noise," he told the crowd.

      It was all love from the Forest Hill favourite, who kept mentioning how damn good it was to be back in Canada following a month of U.S. shows. Shots of Toronto's skyline ran across the screen as Drake rapped about drinking, fucking and mobbing on the low in "Furthest Thing," but he criss-crossed the stage all night praising the 604. "I be in Vancouver just swangin,'" he drawled during slow-roller "Connect".

      A mid-set medley had Drizzy diving into periphery appearances, including the French Montana banger "Pop That", DJ Khaled's "No New Friends", and the beast verse on Migos's chirpy trap number "Versace" which was rapped entirely in tongue-twisting triplets.

      Though a small back-up band was hidden in the oval centrepiece of the stage, Drake performed solo until Future appeared for a couple of tag-team tracks. Even if the rumoured pre-tour beef between the two had been real, the smiles sent back and forth during an extra fiery "Same Damn Time" suggested the relationship's been patched up.

      The hits continued throughout the night, though not necessarily with Drizzy present. A quick costume change forced an exit from the rapper, leaving his DJ to unfurl a series of back catalogue cuts like "Successful" and "Over", the oldies sampler more like a hollow interlude than a concert highlight.

      Upon his return, a now tie-dyed, tank top­–sporting Drake brought out the big guns via his '80s soft pop jam "Hold On, We're Going Home". As the song was winding down, a stagehand brought out an older fan named Jen, who herself was wearing some neon dunks that caught the eye of Aubrey. "I really like your pink shoes, I'm a big fan of those tonight," he told the woman, now nearly in tears, before serenading and praising her further, kissing her on the forehead and joking about meeting her at the hotel later on.

      The final moments hit big with the "HYFR", a run-through of "All Me" that had Drizzy saluting rapper Big Sean's verse in a capella, and a pyro-blasting grand finale of the synth-driven  "Started From the Bottom". Despite noting in its bridge that he's not seeking out any more friends, the night capped with Drake's claim that he was ready to hit the streets to party with Van City. With the rapturous applause given to the Canadian rap idol, could you blame him for wanting to hang out just a little longer?







      Nov 29, 2013 at 12:13pm

      I'm the lady with the pink shoes, and I loved every minute of being serenaded!

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      Nov 29, 2013 at 1:34pm

      You would have looked cuter in a dress/jeans/not yoga pants & runners. But still, lucky you!

      get some hot pink heels and work it gurl! :P

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      Nov 29, 2013 at 5:16pm

      How long was the entire concert including the pre-show?

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      Nov 30, 2013 at 1:33am

      I believe it ran from 7PM-11PM, with some breaks in between performers.

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      Dec 2, 2013 at 9:51pm

      I heard it sucked. Something about him not being able to play an instrument?

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