Wearing a hoodie, red baseball cap and T-shirt emblazoned with the image of rap group Three Times Dope, the 44-year-old opened with a blazing version of ‘Square Dancing’ from 2002’s ‘The Eminem Show’, following with potent renditions of ‘Won’t Back Down’, ‘3 a.m’ and ‘Business’, which whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
Before ‘White America’, he referenced the divided political situation in the US by proclaiming: “I don’t know if anybody here has been paying attention to what the fuck is going on back in our country, back in the States, but it’s kind of making me not want to be there right now. This is the part of the show where I don’t cause a bunch of controversy by naming names and shit like that, but this motherfucker Trump, I cannot stand him.”
To deafening cheers, he then commanded: “Leeds, what I need you to do is when I say ‘Fuck!’, you say ‘Trump!” – the audience duly obliged. It wasn’t the last time Marshall Mathers railed against the 45th President of the United States, as he later sported a black vest bearing the message: ‘FACK TRUMP’.
During his Leeds set – the first time he has played the festival since 2013 – he also dropped well-judged covers of The Weeknd, Lil Wayne, B.o.B and Drake. Introducing Criminal, he said: “In Reading, I told everyone I woke to take a piss and I had a small dick. I’m not going to tell everybody tonight that I have a small dick.”. Sparring with hype-man Denaun Porter, he later returned to the theme when he spotted a giant inflatable penis being handed around the crowd: “You know I said my dick was small? It’s only small compared to that.”
A blistering medley of ‘My Name Is’, ‘The Real Slim Shady’ and , ‘Without Me’ sees Bramham Park ricochet around like boggle dice, and cements his status as an icon, while ‘The Monster’ – his chart-topping team-up with Rihanna elicits a mass, communal sing-a-along. As he prepared to tear through ‘Not Afraid, he said: “Let’s get serious for a moment. This last song is dedicated to anybody who’s ever lost somebody to addiction, is going through it themselves or been through any kind of struggle. ‘Cos I know I couldn’t have got through my shit without you.”
Closing with a flurry of fireworks and ‘Lose Yourself’, he praises Leeds, insisting “This is a gig we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.” The feeling from the crowd is mutual.
Eminem’s setlist was:
Won’t Back Down
Just Don’t Give a Fuck
The Way I Am
Detroit Vs Everybody
The Hills (Remix)(The Weeknd cover)
Drop the World(Lil Wayne cover)
Airplanes, Part II(B.o.B cover)
Sing for the Moment
Like Toy Soldiers
Love the Way You Lie
‘Till I Collapse
My Name Is
The Real Slim Shady