Eminem, 2017

From the moment the lights went down, the anticipation was palpable. Bouncing on to the stage, Eminem’s energy was contagious. More than any other time I’ve seen him live (and there have been a few) his performance was electric. He seemed entirely in his element, hands keeping time to the beat and lyrics spit with true meaning behind every word.

Eminem at Leeds Festival 2017

I had the sense that his performance was truly genuine and he had seemed to pick out the tracks that would give him the best platform to connect with the crowd, rather than simply perform the ones that are the most well known.

The performance came across as one where he was truly present, which hasn’t always been the case in past tours. He was enthusiastic and didn’t hesitate to deliver his performance with impact. Hidden beneath a dark cap, it was hard to make out any facial expressions, however that didn’t dampen the emphasis of the words.

Against a simple backdrop of a projected boom-box, the lyrics stood out as complex, taking all the credit without any fancy distractions.

A boombox projected on to the stage provided the backdrop for Eminem at Leeds 2017

Hearing him perform some of the older songs like ‘Soldier’ took me back to the reasons that I started listening to Eminem, way back in the day. Yes, he says things to shock and I don’t agree with all of his lyrics, but he is authentic. His words and rhythms helped me to get through some really tough times and as I stood there in the crowd, it seemed like everyone around me was using his music as an outlet, a release for all of the struggles we have to deal with daily.

The angsty, teenage me was in her element, shouting the words along with the performance in the same way that I’d learnt the words to the tracks whilst back in school. This time, however, it felt like there was less of Shady’s antisocial antics and much more of Eminem ripping through politics, poverty and inequality.

Despite the change of focus, Eminem’s skills are just as pronounced and polished, without loosing the raw nature of his performance. Stepping up a gear, his performance of ‘Rap God’ never fails to amaze, throwing out words with incredible speed. Every time I hear it, I get chills and for me, it cements his title as one of the best in his business.

Despite mix reviews of his last couple of albums, I felt that Eminem’s performance showed that he isn’t ready to hang up his hat just yet. In his own words ‘Mr Don’t Give A Fuck just won’t leave’ and I for one couldn’t be happier.

Eminem shares his political views at Leeds 2017

Were you there? What was your experience of Eminem’s set?

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Ashanti, 2017

It was everything you could have wanted – shout-outs to some of the hip-hop greats (2Pac, Ja Rule), a dive bar venue (the Ritz) and two of the best RnB / hip-hop DJs I have heard in a long time. The crowd was bouncing before Ashanti even set foot on the stage and I could see knowing grins from the people around me as songs from the golden era of rap & RnB took us back.

enlight23

Its easy to forget just how much of an RnB princess Ashanti is. What a reminder this gig was! Her performance was flawless and songs from her back catalogue had the whole crowd on their feet, fully feeling the throwback party vibe.  The stand out memory of the night was hearing the beginning strains of ‘Only You’ echoing through the venue. Grinning like a Cheshire Cat at my friend, I heard the whole room let out a collective exhale – the type which only accompanies the recognition of an amazing tune.

Suddenly a room full of 30 something year olds was transformed into a group of teenagers, drunk on memories and dancing like we were in an MTV base music video. Thoughts of drunken nights out, clubs with mirrored ceilings, house parties and hooped earrings flooded back, making me yearn for my RnB roots again.

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