Drake with guests

Drake – The Centre for Performing Arts in Vancouver – July 26, 2010

On what would regularly be a quite Tuesday night, May, David and I were able to head to The Centre to catch hip hop phenom Drake wrap up his “Away From Home” Canadian tour here in Vancouver.
May & I went a bit early to check out the opening acts; DJ Charlie Brown, P. Reign and Francis & The Lights. Sometimes you ‘find’ a gem when you watch the support, this was not one of those times.

DJ Charlie Brown

While DJ Charlie Brown was putting down a good set and trying to work the crowd into some excitement, there was just too many empty seats and people still coming and going from their seats to really get any momentum. He spun solo for a few songs then introduced P. Reign, the self-described “best unsigned rapper

P. Reign

in Canada”. At least he has the giant ego of a rap star…too bad he didn’t have the goods to back it up! (that’s just my opinion…the legion of front row 16 year olds seemed to be into what he was putting out)
After about a 20 minute set from P. Reign and a very quit stage turnover,

Francis & The Lights

on came New York based Francis & The Lights, who said very little to the audience, just performed a handful of very radio friendly pop-rock songs to a stoic audience and then left with hardly any fanfare. Sadly I they were an odd match to be on this bill and it did them a disservice, in a small club venue with the appropriate audience they would be a good show…possibly.
It didn’t matter because in no time the audience was back in a frenzied state as the lights dimmed and anticipation built for the headliner, Drake.

Drake

It was worth the wait! We were super impressed with his stage presence, for a relatively young, new artist he commanded the stage like some of the veterans that he has worked with: Little Wayne, Kayne West, Jay-z to name a few.
His acting skills (he appeared on Degrassi: The Next Generation for 8 seasons) really help him create the persona and build the rapport with the audience. Non more so than when he brought a young lady from the crowd up to the stage to ‘seduce’ during a slow jam (but being a responsible Canadian artist of the YouTube generation, he did preface it with a warning about what she might experience:
groping, licking, kissing, etc plus verified her age, 26) If all the guys didn’t want to be like him and the girls didn’t want to get with him before this moment, this definitely won them over…he has the swagger that makes a star.
Besides all the persona and bravado, the main product – his music – was excellent! Drake can rap with the best of them but he also has an outstanding singing voice (as heard on ‘Find Your Love’). As the evening wrapped up, Drake brought the house lights up and really interacted directly with some of the audience members, pointing out individual women and men, commenting on their ‘fineness’ or what they were wearing. This really brought the bond between artist and audience to a new level…the crowd ate it up!
So, after a rocky beginning, the night ended on a surprisingly good high from an artist I would definitely recommend to see again.

Rihanna – Last Girl On Earth

The opening night of the “Last Girl On Earth” tour was a spectacular, spectacular!
I see a lot of concerts and this was one of the tops for major production shows.
Starting the night off with a bang was Travie McCoy (ex of Gym Class Heroes), his was a short set but got the crowd, of mostly teen girls, off to a rousing start.  His current hit ‘Billionaire’ got a lot of voices singing along, warming them up for the next act, Kesha. 
Judging by the attire of a lot of the crowd, there was just as many Ke$ha fans in the audience as Rihanna fans. She definitely did not disappoint, although hers was a warm up set there was a lot of energy and entertainment packed into the 30 minutes.  Even with a limited set up, she and her two dancers worked every bit of the stage, dancing, drumming and strutting.  I’m sure most of the audience wasn’t around to be able to relate her hits ’Blah Blah Blah’, ’Your Love Is My Drug’ and of course her number 1 ‘Tik Tok’ to the 80’s pop influence that makes it so catchy.  I must admit, Ke$ha very much surprised me, I hadn’t expected someone with her relative inexperience to crank out as entertaining a performance.
After a quick change it was time for the main event…emerging on stage, literally on a pedestal, Rihanna arrived in a electric dress, to rousing applause.  Quickly tossing the dress aside Rihanna was off and running (or should I say dancing) for the next hour and half. Tearing through her catalogue of hits, it was an amazingly fun night. 
I must admit that Rihanna is one of those artist that slips a little under my radar. I know she’s been there for a while turning out single but until they were put all together I hadn’t paid attention to just how many great hit she has.
From ‘Shut Up And Drive’ and ‘Disturbia’ through ‘Rude Boy’ and ‘Rehab’ to ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ and ‘SOS’ wrapping up with ‘Take A Bow’. At the end of the main set it seemed after so many hits there would be any more to come but more did come in the encore..’Live Your Life’ and, the perfect song for normally rainy Vancouver, the ubiquitous ‘Umbrella’ to top of the evening.  After a half dozen costume changes, a couple dozen hits and 90minutes…a great evening was had by all.  There was a definite happy buzz as we left and I’m glad that Brian suggested we go to the show!
As an added little bit of history, we didn’t know at the time that this would be the last major event at GM Place as it would be renamed two days later to Rogers Arena.