DRAKE: THE BOY MEETS THE WORLD TOUR COMES TO GLASGOW'S SSE HYDRO FOR 2 SOLD OUT NIGHTS
The young fella from Toronto came to SSE Hydro on the back of an extraordinary two years at the top of the Spotify charts worldwide – and turned in a powerful performance before a huge crowd over two nights.
An hour before Drake takes the stage, SSE Hydro already feels full. Yet an eclectic mix of mostly teenagers and twenty-somethings continues to flow into the arena, packing everyone tighter and tighter. Smells of smoke machines, hair spray, fake tan, sweat and beer in plastic beakers grow stronger as the sense of anticipation building for Toronto's favourite 'woe' becomes ever more electric.
There's a genuine party atmosphere down by the docks tonight, as the crowd waits for Drake to make his first appearance on Scottish shores since he visited the very same, campus in older building arena back in 2014. The argument that since that date, he has become the biggest artist in the world is not easy to contradict. To take just one vital measurement, he had the most Spotify plays worldwide in both 2015 and 2016 – and his signature tune, 'One Dance’, is currently the most-played Spotify song of all time, with well over a billion plays.
When he finally makes it onstage, it feels like the ground is physically swaying, as the high-pitched screamers do their best to out-decibel the sound-man. The pyrotechnics begin with ‘Started from the Bottom’ – there are huge, mesmerising fireworks, followed by 12 foot high flames. Then, he's straight into the familiar "It feels great to be home” schtick. Drake leans on the routine so much, by the end, you’d have to imagine that it's a staple of his set. It'd feel awfully contrived and fake, if the atmosphere weren't so overwhelming: it is a genuinely, irrefutably euphoric occasion.
As a performer – frontman, dancer, rapper and singer – Drake is an exceptional entity, bouncing around the stage like a pugilist in hunt of a belt, tricolour tucked into his jeans. The only caveat is that it's very hard to tell how much of music is being performed live. There's Drake, accompanied by drums, keys and a DJ – and at times it feels a little too polished, as if the live instruments and Drake's mic are turned way down and the studio version is all we're hearing.
It's a truly remarkable spectacle all the same. The visual production of the show – it feels like it owes a debt to U2’s groundbreaking Innocence+Experience tour – is of the highest quality. At times, the stage feels halfway between a high-end catwalk and a Nicolas Winding Refn film set: each individual twist – from the giant globe that rises from the ground and through the smoke, to the stage’s various transformations and the lights that descend from the ceiling – adds to the wow factor.
During the encore, he increases the energy and intensity, showing that, even after all the exertions, he has a final gear left in him. ‘Know Yourself’ is perhaps the highlight of the night, before ‘Fake Love’ and ‘Legend’ end the love affair. Even for those who weren’t Drake’s fanatics in advance, it'd take a pretty cynical man to be unimpressed by his Boy Meets World Tour.