As soon as Drake walked on stage in a Vancouver Canucks jersey, it was clear that the man was here to please the crowd. And please he did, from changing lyrics in his songs on the fly to name Vancouver instead of Toronto to remarking that we were the best city on his tour.
Drizzy burned through an exhaustive set list that was just over two hours, with a heavy focus on his most recent music. There was barely any material from old favourites like So Far Gone and Thank Me Later. Even Take Care was underrepresented. Instead, he spent most of the set going through Views. While the recorded album suffered from sounding too mellow, in Rogers Arena with tens of thousands of fans, cuts like “Still Here” and “U With Me” sounded exhilarating and fresh.
The stage design and those responsible for it deserve special recognition, as they took simple elements and used them to their fullest with trippy visuals, subdued colour palettes, and a main stage that transformed as the show went on. It’s worth noting that Drake is not alone on the Summer Sixteen tour, with Atlanta-based rapper Future joining him as a co-headliner; however, his set was underwhelming to say the least.
Future tried way too hard to rev up the crowd which, to their credit, everyone was game. He had none of the effortless charm that Drake brought to the stage, though. In fact, Future occupied the stage for what must have been over 20 minutes by himself and the production was starkly different. He over-relied on pyrotechnics and a cavalcade of video clips on the big screen behind him. It all screamed “Look at me, I’m as important as Drake.”
He didn’t outstay his welcome, though. The best parts of his set were when Drake joined him for rousing renditions of “Big Rings” and “Jumpman” from their mixtape What a Time to Be Alive. Then Drake took the stage back, starting with his verses from “Work” and “Too Good.”
The final stretch of the show was a parade of hits: from Views songs “Controlla” and “One Dance,” to songs like “Know Yourself” and “Energy” — both of which, for this reviewer, were particular highlights.
For me, I sometimes struggle with rap music and find so much of it shallow and quite frankly uninteresting. But Drake is a breath of fresh air. From start to finish he came off as genuine, honest, and let the depth and complexity of his impressive catalogue shine through. Compare that with many of his contemporaries, and in my books he’s the most exciting rapper in the game right now.