There was something oddly tongue-in-cheek in seeing concert goers as young as 7 singing along to Nicki Minaj’s hits like ‘Come on a Cone’ (“Put my d**k in your face”) or ‘Roman’s Revenge’ (“I’m a bad bitch, I’m a c*nt, and I kick that ho, punt!”) at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre last night. Anyone worried the rapper-cum-popette would tone her Pink Friday Reloaded Tour down for the kiddies sake must not know Nicki, or at the very least, 'Roman', very well.
Her first arena tour in Australia, Pink Friday Reloaded proved the strength of Minaj’s material and her strangely likable persona. Love her or hate her, ‘Super Bass’ and ‘Pound the Alarm’ are damn near irresistible. Without such hook-heavy, loveable tunes, the Barbie doll house that was Nicki’s stage would have easily crumbled. The heavy use of backing tracks, auto-tune and back-up singers (most notably during ‘Marilyn Monroe’) gave the show a rushed and unfinished feel, but Nicki’s sweet-as-pie stage presence, on top of her slick, polished pop gems, saved the day.
“How are you, my darlings?” she asked. “It’s awfully nice for you to join me. You look good and you smell good!”
Chatting with the crowd, including a half-decent attempt at speaking in an Australian accent, telling the young girls in the crowd to “stay in school” and complimenting Adelaide men on their “lovely penises” showed a different side to the quirky rapper.
And when the hits came, they came hard. ‘Turn Me On’, ‘Va Va Voom’ and closer ‘Starships’ had everyone (yes, even the parents) on their feet. Her oft (unfairly) criticized rapping too, was a highlight. She started as a rapper after all, don’t let her forays into dance-pop and R&B make you forget.
However less exciting numbers like ‘The Boys’, ‘Fire Burns’ and ‘Save Me’ should have been relegated to video interlude status. And word to the wise, Nicki: don’t expect a crowd of teens and schoolgirls to fake interest in the hookless, hip-hop heavy album cuts from your latest (and mostly unnecessary) EP The Re-Up when you know you have better tracks.
Nicki’s insistence on performing so many of her featured songs was hit and miss. ‘A$$’, ‘Monster’ and ‘Raining Men’ fit right into Minaj’s own blend of quirky ‘hip-pop’ while the 15 or so other features (cleverly remixed into long medleys to at least feign cohesion) may as well have stayed on Ruby Rose’s iPod. Pink Friday Reloaded could easily be made into a shorter, more dynamic set that would probably have more bang for its buck.
Criticism aside, the show was incredibly fun, colourful and as sugary sweet as Nicki's cotton candy hair. If you want preachy pop, go to a Lady Gaga or Madonna concert.
It felt odd to see Minaj who rose to mainstream fame following her showstopping feature in Kanye West’s 2010 hit ‘Monster’, walk the stage as pop music’s latest play thing. Pink Friday Reloaded is Nicki trying to do it all – keep the “she can’t rap” naysayers at bay, wrest the pop crown from Gaga, Rihanna and Katy Perry while pandering to her newfound status as tween poster girl.
When you spit out rhymes about ‘Stupid Hoe[s]’ with a neon pink wig and Giuseppe Zanotti heels to boot, it can be easy to want to do it all, or at least think you can. Someone should tell Onika that sometimes, less is more.