On Dec. 4, hip-hop artist Drake, in support of his third studio LP "Nothing Was The Same," brought his world tour, titled "Would You Like a Tour," to the Tacoma Dome. Being the hip, privileged, smug, cutting edge journalist that I am, I was able to secure myself a ticket and spent the night on the floor of the Dome with the so-called "Softest In The Game."
Rapper Future opened the show with his own brand of Southern styled trap heavy bangers, which included the Ace Hood helmed hit, "New Buggati." Future's set was surprisingly short, lasting a little under 30 minutes, but he was exactly what the crowd needed to get the night started.
R&B singer Miguel followed. Miguel, who is still touring in support of his 2012 LP "Kaleidoscope Dream," was in fine form and was accompanied by an entire well-rehearsed backing band. The band was a nice surprise and gave his set a more personal touch. On first listen, "Kaleidoscope Dream" painted Miguel in a very different light. It wasn't hard to imagine him as an incredibly smooth lady-killer dressed in a beautiful, million dollar suit who would rather die than break his cool. Therefore, it was a bit of a trip to see him performing under the guise of a Michael Jackson-esque rock star who spent much of the night grinning, dancing and cracking jokes.
Miguel powered through his 40-minute set, running through the singles of "Kaleidoscope Dream" with ferocious power and passion. Many of the songs took on new forms with a more rock inspired sound; opener "The Thrill" in particular felt like it was always meant to be performed with a heavier focus on guitar and going back to the soulful, subtle sound of the studio version feels a bit wrong. The highlight of the set, and perhaps the entire night, was his closer. "Now for the song you've wanted to hear from me all night," he said with a smile before the skipping beats and vocal samples of "Adorn" flooded the Dome. For as long as Miguel continues to make music, "Adorn" will be his signature song. It's just too damn good for it not to be. Like "The Thrill," "Adorn" took on new life as an arena rocker, and brought Miguel's set to a thunderous jamming conclusion.
The main act of the night took to the stage sometime around 10 p.m. He appeared in fantastic fashion on a fantastic stage. Sure, there was no mountain for him to climb, or Jesus Christ lookalike to bow to, but Drake had a stage that was quite the spectacle, complete with escalator, backing lightshow and glowing circular platform. Drake started his set with the first verse of "Tuscan Leather," the first track off "Nothing Was The Same." He then spliced together a medley of his best cuts from his 2011 release, "Take Care," including "Headlines" and The Weeknd assisted "Crew Love." Drake had energy to burn. "If you guys want to go all night, I got about 100 of these (expletive) set. Just let me know," he said half-jokingly.
In the fashion of "Nothing Was The Same" (where Jay-Z was the only actual feature to appear on the whole album), Drake performed much of his material on his own, with the only guest spots coming from Future and vocalist Jhene Aiko. I couldn't help but notice the quality of the show dipped when Drake gave up the spotlight and allowed these guests to shine with him. Were Future or Aiko particularly bad? Nah, but Drake is at his brightest when it's just him. He really gave the impression of being a one-man band, and I think he said it best with the line, "Every song sounds like Drake featuring Drake."
Highlights from the set include the current R&B centric hit, "Hold On, We're Going Home," a song which he paused mid-performance to ask a girl to come on stage in order to sing to her in a hilarious, grandiose attempt at seduction. Then there was another medley of hits that included A$ap Rocky's "F***||ing Problems," French Montana's "Pop That" and, of course, the legendary "The Motto." Perhaps the most bizzare and eyebrow raising moment of the show involved Drake walking around on a platform that had descended from the ceiling while giving brief shoutouts to anyone in the audience who caught his eye. "Yeah, I see you with the Nothing Was The Same shirt jumping up and down, yeah I see you girl don't tease me, oh lord!"
Were there certain aspects of the show I was disappointed with? Yeah, I mean when you have as many hits as Drake (we're talking about a man who in three years beat Jay-Z for most No. 1 hits on the Billboard Top 100) you were probably going to miss a few standout tracks. But really, Drizzy? You couldn't give a throwback "Best I Ever Had" to a kid whose eighth grade year was practically defined by that song? It was also disappointing to hear tracks like "Take Care," "Forever" and tracks from "So Far Gone" featured only in a medley put on by DJ Future the Prince. These were all minor details when Drake closed the show with an incredible rendition of "Started From The Bottom," which concluded with a fireworks show and thunderous applause.
I suppose the biggest surprise I experienced while watching Drake’s hour-and-a-half performance came with his overall attitude. For a man who catches so much flack for being "the sensitive one" or "the softest in the game," the dude didn't seem to care about how he was perceived – he simply wanted to have a good time and give a good time to the audience. I think that at the end of the day, Drake isn't really all that concerned with success, or No.1 hits, or however many of his exes are living in Texas. I think the dude's just enjoying the ride, and it's a pleasure to be along with him.