Manchester Academy

For a man whose only British live appearance to date consisted of playing a 20-minute set and then showing the crowd his ARSE, he still has a relatively fragile grip on the notion of giving valu

“You all know Dr Dre is one of the greatest MOTHERF–IN’ producers in hip-hop, right?” asks the DJ warming up the crowd before the first show of [a]Eminem[/a]’s British tour.

“Woooooooo! Eeeeeeeek!” reply Manchester’s downest young street wiggaz. But in case we don’t know who he means, he plays a medley of [a]NWA[/a] and [a]Dr. Dre[/a]’s greatest hits.

“Woooooooo! Eeeeeeeek!” responds the crowd.

All this before any mention of [a]Eminem[/a], tonight’s main attraction, because in case you were harbouring any doubts about a white, blond rapper from Detroit, any friend of [a]Dr. Dre[/a] must be cool. So go figure, bwoyyyy.

Likewise, by associating with someone associated with [a]Dr. Dre[/a], one thing’s for sure: tonight’s audience may be white, well-educated and arguably not from the ghetto, but YO! They don’t give a FUCK, y’all. As long as Eminem says they don’t have to.

We know this because at every available opportunity this crowd will gleefully join our hero in a middle-fingered salute to… erm, you know, whatever’n’shit, then chant along with him to a line which will invariably involve the word ‘FUCK’ being shouted twice as loud as every other word. Meanwhile, they wave their lighters to show that they smoke, grab their crotches to show that they… er, have got genitals, and wave their hands in the air like they just don’t FUCK… no, missed the cue there. But I think we can rest assured that none of their mums smoke dope, or are suing them. They’re just waiting nervously outside in family saloons.

But if anyone can show these white-bread kids how to be down with the brothers, [a]Eminem[/a] can. He’s pretty fly, for a white guy. No, really. He is the man who, more than any Kid Rock or Limp Bizkit-style backwards baseball cap goon, makes it OK for white kids to wear jeans that look like they’ve been CRAPPED in, recently laundered sports casual clothing and trainers like hovercrafts.

And at his best tonight, he’s like the bastard cracker spawn of ‘Licensed To Ill’-era Beastie Boys, all bawdy humour, bratitude and a refreshing willingness to (only just metaphorically) wave his DICK in the wind and to HELL with the consequences. As well as making splendidly simplistic, BOLLOCK-stomping hip-hop.

Meanwhile, the ten-foot inflatable mummy ERECTED onstage might as well be a Beastie-style inflatable PENIS for all its gloriously daft irrelevance.

But whatever the FUCK you make of [a]Eminem[/a]’s verbal diarrhoea delivery he succeeds brilliantly. Because despite his arhythmic, tripping-over-themselves raps and stream-of-sleaziness lyrics, he quite simply rocks, and on the likes of ‘Guilty Conscience’ and ‘Still Don’t Give A FUCK’ the delinquent energy and pogoing exuberance win through, not least because, for of an audience obediently jumping and waving in unison, this is the soundtrack to their lives.

As a live show, there’s still a few flaws in the package. For instance, why do several of

[a]Eminem[/a]’s homies spend half the gig loitering like lemons around the stage? Indeed, the Suge Knight lookalike standing around at the back initially appears to be a bodyguard, but NME later learns that he is officially part of the ‘crew’. His creative contribution consists of occasionally wiping his brow with the towel that’s slung round his neck. Cheers.

Meanwhile, for a man whose only British live appearance to date consisted of playing a 20-minute set and then showing the crowd his ARSE, he still has a relatively fragile grip on the notion of giving value for money. Forty-five minutes and one reluctant encore is less than our expectant throng had hoped for.

But then it was a school night, and we were all ready for bed by 10pm. And he did still show his ARSE.

Ultimately, though, he gets respect because he’s like the kid at school who gets up in class, fronting it with the teacher, being the class clown for his own amusement, while also doing what the hard kids sitting sullenly at the back are a bit too cool to try. And no amount of namechecking, dissing or swearing can be a substitute for BALLS.

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