The last time Drake toured the British isles was in early 2014 as part of his whimsically named Would You Like A Tour? Tour. By the time his equally-droll The Boy Meets World Tour makes its way to these shores in March, it’ll be three whole years since he last graced UK arenas. In the interim period, Drake has legitimately staked a claim on being the biggest pop star on the planet, scoring his first UK Number One single, nearly breaking a chart record held by Bryan Adams since 1991 and headlining festivals like Wireless and Coachella.
Following his Coachella performance, Drake took to Twitter to make a rare admission of insecurity: “I took an L [loss] for the first time. I just have to reassess what went wrong with my judgment.” The Toronto rapper may have conquered both the rap game and pop world, but it’s on the big stage that Drizzy’s superstar status has yet to be sealed. Here’s what he needs to do on his upcoming tour to prove he really is at (6) God level.
Don’t shut up and play the hits
When Drake last played London’s O2 Arena back in 2014, his set felt like a late-career greatest hits medley, but from an artist just three albums deep. Cherry-picking single verses and choruses from across his back-catalogue, the rapper hardly gave the audience a chance to breathe, delivering truncated renditions of hit after hit. The result was Drake karaoke on shuffle, and his performance suffered from this lack of cohesion. He seems to have continued this with his current ‘Summer Sixteen’ tour, running in North America, which has seen him play almost 30 songs nightly. As the marathon length ‘Views’ displayed, Drake finds it hard to edit himself – but what he really needs to remember is that sometimes less is more.
Think big, think Kanye
Surprisingly for an artist so extravagant and cinematic, Drake’s concerts can be somewhat low key and by-numbers. He’s released a flurry of short films, yet this element of his artistry has never been reflected in his live performances. The rapper has long spoken of Kanye as his biggest influence and it’s West’s showmanship and forward-thinking mindset that Drake should take note of. Time and time again, Kanye has pushed the boundaries of the live set-up. There was that time he invented the surround-screen experience, that time he performed atop a massive pyramid and, more recently, above the crowd on a floating stage. Drake’s new balloon lighting set-up (see above) is a start but if he wants to truly prove his greatness, he needs to think outside the box… or, er, stage.
Keep the family close but your rivals even closer
They call it the ‘music business’ for a reason and if Drake really wants to give fans their money’s worth then he needs to book his tourmates and supports solely on merit, rather than nepotism. Sure, current companions Roy Woods and Dvsn show much promise but filling your opening slots with OVO Sound label figures pretty much make the entire concert something like a countdown to the headliner’s set. What if Drake went for someone who might challenge his spotlight a little, spurring him on to perform even better, just like when Kanye called on Kendrick to open his ‘Yeezus’ tour. Drizzy, give Chance a call. Or Skepta. Just imagine.
Hit the stadiums
The last time Drake toured the UK, he played three shows at London’s O2 Arena. Next year, he’ll play six – subject to any additional dates being added. He will also appear at the exact same venues in Glasgow, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham as he did last time round. Is it time for a change of scenery? Is Drake ready to make the step up to stadium status? I’m sure Drake himself wouldn’t feel to out of place headlining Wembley or Manchester’s Etihad. Commanding such a massive stage would sure force the star to take things to the next level. Plus, being such a big footy fan, maybe he could even stick around to catch a game.