Monday, March 22, 2010

50 Cent At Wembley Arena London, UK Concert Review

As reported by Lisa Verrico / Times London

The blocks of empty seats at the back of the arena were a sign. So, too, the number of parents who had come with their young kids — little boys in backwards baseball caps can be cute, but not cool. Throw in that teenagers were vastly outnumbered by women in their thirties who shrieked at every glimpse of 50 Cent’s enviably toned torso, and it was clear that gangsta rap can no longer call itself hip.

Of course, record sales have reflected the genre’s decline for a few years. Just half a decade ago 50 Cent was hip hop’s best-selling star, thanks as much to a bad-boy image plundered from his past as expletive-strewn songs that lacked the finesse of his mentor Eminem. Today, 50 — or Fiddy, or Curtis James Jackson III — still makes millions, but from flogging branded products (his most lucrative line is a vitamin drink) rather than selling songs.

Still, he seemed delighted to be back on stage, supposedly to promote the current album Before I Self-Destruct, really to big up his brand. A giant backdrop of the album’s cover art showing half of his handsome face burning from the inside couldn’t have been more at odds with the mile-wide smile he sported all evening or the sweetness with which he thanked the crowd for coming.

Musically the gig was hit-and-miss, though for factors other than the songs. The sound, particularly at the start, was woeful — the bass was barely audible, the beats so distorted that they could have been coming from a passing car with its windows up. Too often 50 Cent’s own, surprisingly seductive, R&B-tinged vocals were entirely drowned out by two below-par backing rappers from his G-Unit squad. That he had brought along a four-piece band as well as a DJ was admirable, though he made sparse use of them. All the show’s finest moments featured the band, notably when they were let loose on melodic, mid-tempo tracks such as P.I.M.P. and Do You Think About Me.

The performance was predictable and at times enchanting. Predictable because at least of half of it comprised 50 Cent waving both arms up and down as though leading an aerobics class for the elderly; enchanting because, for all his ludicrous posturing, 50 Cent has charisma in spades. He stripped off more often than the Pussycat Dolls, changing outfits every few songs just so that he could throw more clothes into the crowd — one leather jacket lasted less than 30 seconds on his back before being flung into the arms of a fan.

Yet around every corner was another cheesy cliché. After an energetic medley of Magic (Stick), Candy Shop and Beamer, Benz or Bentley that had the crowd screaming his name, 50 Cent dedicated the classic 21 Questions to “my lay-deez” by holding his mike at his crotch and stroking it. Oh dear.

more fan shot footage below.

(video courtesy of Kingexpression & xfran23)

50 Cent Wembley Arena London, UK Concert (with video & photo links)

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