Sept. 01--With a little help from Drake, Nicki Minaj and an amped-up hometown crowd, Big Sean served up another triumphant Saturday night.
On the heels of his sophomore album, the Detroit rapper's show at DTE Energy Music Theatre came with a celebratory flavor, even if it was missing the dramatic, once-in-a-lifetime feel that accompanied his breakout December show down the road at the Palace.
Saturday was all about the party, and Sean was happy to play ringmaster, serving up a two-hour set of good-time rhymes, Detroit-repping raps and toasts to his champagne-and-limos success. Topping off a busy week that included his "Hall of Fame" release and a slew of activities around town, the show was a chance for a big hometown headlining event before Sean takes off as a support act on Kid Cudi's tour.
As in December, he stoked a communal spirit throughout the night, a kind of we're-all-in-this-together vibe that had 12,000-plus young fans firmly locked into the moment. In the amphitheater pavilion and stage wings were hordes of childhood friends and family members, still lapping up -- if not entirely surprised by -- Big Sean's stardom.
The 25-year-old rapper roamed the stage backed by Detroit DJ Mo Beatz and a new live ensemble that included drums, bass and keyboards, which breathed big life into numbers like the new "You Don't Know."
Sean had hit the stage just after 8:45 p.m. atop the band platform, silhouetted by a pair of spotlights behind him, launching into his album-leading empowerment anthem "Nothing is Stopping You" as a sinsemilla smell wafted through the crowd. An intense "Fire" followed, setting the tone for a production that would feature frenetic lights, columns of smoke and appearances by his lion mascot and silent hype man, Rico.
Big Sean is growing into a solid live performer, commanding the stage and finding the right pace for his ever-expanding list of hits and guest features. His voice was getting raspy just 50 minutes in, on the bouncing "Beware," though it was one of several new songs that offered a strong musical changeup to the set list, including "First Chain," "World Ablaze" and "Toyota Music."
Having hit the stage clad in all black -- excepting his gold chain and lion medallion -- Sean returned from a short break in a Red Wings jersey (Henrik Zetterberg) as the show began climbing to its climax. "Memories" brought his mother, Myra Anderson, out to the stage for a long, triumphant embrace, leaving him to wipe tears from his face at the back of the stage.
It was a temporary tender moment: From there it was right into the raunchy "Mona Lisa" and a blast of upbeat fare. And when surprise guest Drake stepped onto the stage for "All Me" and "Started From the Bottom," the crowd roar was as loud as it had been all night, pushing the energy to a high that remained as Nicki Minaj strolled out to duet on the show-closing "Dance (A$$)."
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