Live Review: Lil Wayne

Staples Center, Los Angeles, April 22nd

Andy Willsher/NME
Pic: Andy Willsher/NME
Lil Wayne sure is lovable. Maybe it’s that, with his wrists still recalling the pinch of last year’s much ballyhooed incarceration, his renewed lust for life is contagious. Or perhaps it’s his just-as-widely broadcast reputation of a lust for, well, lust. Either way, the Everywoman at the Staples Center – from squealing barely-teen to barely dressed 20-something – wants to be “single tonight” for the muscled little goblin. Well, for the first half of his set…

To be honest, we’re all just relieved to see him on a happy, non-chemical high. The slurred’n’screwed New Orleans native, who seemed to be derailing last spring, emerged from his cell in November with the lean and spitting ‘6 Foot 7 Foot’, the lead single from his upcoming ‘Tha Carter IV’. Weezy, with his cheerleader jumps, is ebullient and endearingly goofy, and everyone here is ready even to indulge his game of Guitar Hero with the backup band.

In fact, most of us would’ve called the night his if it had ended there. As halftime shows, though, Pink Barbie, in a Rainbow Brite catsuit and cotton candy-coloured hair, comes from nowhere and runs away with the ball. Radio is not Nicki Minaj’s medium; the stage is. The same caricatures that can annoy on record take on a new life when acted, and – surprise! – she actually can sing. “No, I’m not lucky; I’m blessed”, she says in ‘Moment For Life’. As an actress, she’s right.

Lil Wayne returns to the stage for another hour or so, spinning dizzily through Drake’s ‘Miss Me’ and ‘Forever’ (he’s the only one of the Young Money crew not in attendance tonight) working the women into a froth with ‘Every Girl’, and grinding through ‘Mrs Officer’ and ‘Lollipop’. But the show starts to suffer from the barrage of ‘Now That’s What I Call Music!’ Hits – ‘Bedrock’ hasn’t been laid to rest long enough ago for us to welcome hearing it again, despite the onstage slumber party that accompanies it.

And for all his futuristic talk, Weezy isn’t much interested in previewing his forthcoming album. Eventually, even the most feverish fans sit down. His own energy, on the other hand, remains inhuman. Sprinting about the stage as fireworks spray, he proclaims, “I am one of the greatest things to happen to music.” But no-one sticks around for an encore. They may love the lil’ Martian, but he’s just too exhausting to take home.

Rebecca Haithcoat

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