Music Review: Nicki Minaj, Manchester Arena, Manchester

Image Source: Rolling Stone

Format: Music Show
Genre: Rap
Date: March 18 2019
Location: Manchester Arena, Manchester

Nicki Minaj is certainly one of the more outspoken, controversial yet talented performers in the music industry today, and all of these qualities were demonstrated during her show at the Manchester Arena last night.

As part of #NickiWrldTour, the American rap star took to the stage (which in itself was a story as I will explain) and had the attention of everybody in the building. Even if you had just attended alongside a partner and weren’t a fan yourself, it would be hard to not be invested on some level by the spectacle of what was unfolding before your eyes.

To that note, we had a multitude of colourful costume changes, some very unique props which enhanced the performances of particular tunes (including a memorable visual at the finish, which I won’t spoil for those who plan to attend the rest of her tour), a generously large stage, and more energy and excitement than you would find at most other concerts all year. Nicki’s shows can be described in a lot of ways, but “dull” is definitely not one of them; it was impossible not to observe the show and come away with memories that will stay in your head for some time.

As for the songs themselves: perhaps her most famous tune remains Starships, the 2012 smash-hit that put Nicki on the map, but it was far from the only main song of the evening. Majesty kicked things off, and we were treated to the likes of Feeling Myself, Rake It Up, Letting Go, Where Them Girls At, Side To Side and Swalla, with Super Bass bringing the night to a close. There were various levels of pace and style throughout the evening, so while it was a high-octane performance, things did occasionally slow down in line with the nature of the songs.

Perhaps the stand-out moment of the night came not from a song, but from a speech, as Nicki delivered an emotional address to show her support for the Manchester audience as a whole, in the wake of the tragic terrorist attack at her friend Ariana Grande’s show in the same venue in 2017 that left 22 people dead. For more than a few attendees, this evening would have marked their first trip back to the arena, and no doubt it would have been a struggle. So it helps when a superstar such as Minaj lets the people know that the music industry is still thinking of them, and that, beneath the glamour and showmanship, the likes of Minaj and Grande are still human.

I have to mention the elephant in the room: the fact that Nicki went on stage incredibly late, as in a long time after the show was set to start. It is fashionable to keep the audience waiting following a warm-up act, but Minaj coming on stage at around 10.00pm is not exactly beneficial for those who had late trains to catch, meaning that a fair few missed the ending to the show and, in a couple of cases, they only managed to see a small portion of the performance. I had noticed in the preceding days that this was likely to happen based on other shows during her current tour (some of which were cancelled due to technical difficulties while fans were in the venue), but for those who were not prepared, the incredibly long delay before the show properly started was a real pain, especially for those with standing tickets. In addition, the scantily-clad attires and heavy sexual innuendo may have been off-putting to some, though I am under the assumption with Nicki that, amongst her core fanbase anyway, what you see is what you get, and only a small percentage will have been shocked at this.

On the whole, though, Nicki Minaj’s show was one to remember. The performance took more than its sweet time to begin, but once it arrived, it was a real treat for those in attendance. Diehard fans of Nicki will have come away thoroughly satisfied at what they got to see; here’s hoping that Minaj returns to Manchester again in the future.

Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good