Review: Nicki Minaj gives Dubai powerful performance

March 26, 2016 | Gulf News Music

Review: Nicki Minaj gives Dubai powerful performance

Let’s rewind a bit. In January, Nicki Minaj got into a ‘feud’ with Farrah Abraham, teen mom TV star turned adult actress. When the media covered the (largely irrelevant) spat, they used pictures of Abraham smiling and Minaj scowling. A typical perpetuation of the racist Angry Black Woman stereotype. Thankfully, Minaj was having none of it. She took to Twitter and was kind enough to point publications to pictures of herself smiling instead.

You might be wondering what in the world this has to do with her show in Dubai on Friday night. The answer is: everything.

I’ve never seen a performer smile as much as Minaj did up on that stage.

I’ve been to plenty of shows in my life, but Minaj’s gig (the first event at the new Autism Rocks Arena near Dubai Outlet Mall) reminded me exactly why pop music is so important. Because it’s fun. Undiluted, untouchable, unbelievable fun. I’ve never seen a crowd in Dubai enjoy themselves as much as the crowd on Friday.

Do you know how hard it is to get teenagers to let go of their inhibitions and dance? In public? Not two feet away from other humans? And I’m not talking about hopping around in their spot — but borderline breakdancing.

Now picture thousands of young people forming little clusters in the crowd with their best friends and losing their minds to their favourite Minaj tracks, of which they know every single word. Watching them was almost worth the ticket price alone.

Minaj’s energy was pure. Pure joy, pure power, pure silliness. Minaj is a performer who knows her craft — and her fans — inside out. For an hour, she was 100 per cent present, although she admitted to toning down for Dubai. A contrast to her more flashy numbers, she was in a beige unitard with long, golden frills and a small suede heel.

Before Anaconda, she apologetically told the crowd she wouldn’t be doing her usual “freaky” routine. “I don’t even know how to tone it down. But I love you?” Her choreography was tame at best. Weirdly, she even censored most of the language in real time, something I don’t recall seeing at any other gig.

In between telling her fans to never quit on their dreams, giving a young woman in the crowd the microphone to absolutely kill her verse in Trey Songz’s Bottoms Up, and reassuring everyone how much she loved them, she blew through all the big hits and collaborations. Moment 4 Life. Beez in the Trap. Super Bass. Starships. Flawless (Beyonce). Truffle Butter (Drake, Lil Wayne). Dance (Big Sean).