Last night we witnessed Kendrick Lamar’s first ever London show. It was easily one of the best live events I have ever had the honour of attending. No word of exaggeration.
The vibes were nice as soon as we stepped into the venue and even though we got there at 8.30, an hour and a half after doors had opened (not expecting him to come on until after 10pm), we managed to navigate our way through the crowd without setting off any tempers. Once we got to a point where we could no longer move ahead we made some friends on either side of us, and while the DJ spun some TDE tunes, made a plan to move to the front together when the show started. And our plan worked beautifully.
When Kendrick came on at 9pm, the atmosphere switched instantly. What started off a chilled, relaxed patience instantly transformed into crazy vivacity literally the split second he appeared on stage performing F*ck Your Ethnicity, with all of us immediately ready to shout the chorus at the top of our lungs the moment we had an opportunity. The mad energy and bursting excitement never turned into anything negative though. This crowd could not have been more different to the crowd at the last event I went to at The Electric Ballroom. No-one was overly aggressive. No-one tried to steal no-one’s Rolex. (No-one even felt the need to wear a Rolex). The humble down-to-earth man on stage attracted a like-minded crowd and each was a reflection of the other. Definitely one of the best crowds I have ever been a part of, that I was proud to be a part of. We all made the night even better.
Kendrick’s performance was completely on point at all times and undeniably amazing. The speed of his flow on Rigamortus alone was unbelievable. He talked to us, he interacted with us, he told us stories to introduce different songs and got us feeling so positive, our energy levels were soaring higher than I thought was even possible. Best of all, he made sure that it continued all night. He said he didn’t want us to just hear him, he wanted us to feel him. And we felt every word. Our involvement and engagement with him was consistent throughout, we knew all the lyrics and never got tired of relaying them back to him every time he wanted us to, from the “f*ck that”s on A.D.H.D. to the harmonising “ackin’ like a ho”s at the end of The Spiteful Chant, where we all did very well to hit some difficult high notes:
Kendrick said that he didn’t like to call us his fans, because we were family, we were one, which brought a huge new wave of energy to the crowd. They didn’t seem like just empty words either, he treated us with respect. Not only did he come on early (not tormenting us by coming on ridiculously late like how many artists like to do) but told us that he cared about our generation and was speaking up on behalf of all of us. It was plainly obvious by our unanimous reaction that we were all happy for him to be the man for the job and the reaction was even more powerful when he announced the release date of his upcoming album. As another mark of equality and respect, he threw us some bottles of water and asked us what we wanted to hear, which started off a Cartoons & Cereal chant at the end of Ronald Reagan Era:
As soon as Kendrick said something along the lines of “you know what to do now, just follow the instructions” I knew it was time for HiiiPower. A rush and high that I had never experienced before took over me as we all shouted “everybody put three fingers in the air, the sky is falling, the wind is calling, stand for something or die in the morning. Section.80. HiiiPower.” Incomparable to the meaningless Roc diamonds people put up at other gigs, the sea of hands with three fingers up in the air that surrounded me is an image that will probably stay with me forever. HiiiPower: it’s heart, honour, and respect – a positive, revolutionary movement open to everyone… and it was in full force last night. Ab-Soul once said, “come to our show you can see the diversity. Unified people they gon’ peep it universally…” We were more than unified. It’s probably not what you want to read in a review but there are no words to describe the feeling I had being part of that crowd at that moment. I don’t think I was the only one either. The guy next to me turned to me to say “oh my days! This is so sick! He is so… SICK!” probably 25 times. And I never got annoyed. How could I? I have never felt so close to feeling pure joy and complete unity at a show before. And I have never felt like I was in the presence of a legend in the making before either.
Kendrick went off after an acapella I Am and even though I thought I had lost my voice by this point, I managed to dig deep into the back of my vocal chords to let out my final screams for the encore. He came back quickly to give us Cartoons & Cereal and The Recipe before bowing out. What an encore.
What a show. I wish I could go again tonight. I’ll have to settle for Section.80 on repeat on the lunch break instead. I probably won’t be able to listen to anything else for a long time. good kid, m.A.A.d city will be released on October 2nd. Can hardly wait.