Drake’s Jungle Tour is a solo love letter to the city, free of celebrity distraction
Music, Wed. June 3, 2015
Welcome to Drake’s jungle, baby.
It’s a complex place, one where hanging vines, dry ice waterfalls and the occasional campfire serve as the visual backdrop for the Toronto-born rap superstar’s complex feelings, the inner sanctum of emotions that range from unsure to confident, prosaic to idealistic, romantic to lustful, reflective to boastful . . . but articulately expressed in a manner that is uncommon.
All of Aubrey Graham’s sentiments were on masterful display at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night for an enthusiastic full house estimated at 18,000 strong, served with a constant tide of love for his hometown of Toronto, which he affectionately referred to as “the 6.”
“I’ve been waiting for this for a motherf—ing long time,” Drizzy admitted after opening the just-shy-of-two-hour show with a set of new and vintage songs, starting with “Legend” and seguing into “Trophies” and “We Made It” before jumping into “Headlines” and “Over,” which had the crowd loudly singing along at the top of their lungs.
Drake professing his love for this town is nothing new, as he’s proven himself to be perhaps the most vocal global ambassador for all things TDot.
But unlike OVO Fest — the rapper’s annual early August festival that’s spread over a couple of days at the Molson Amphitheatre and brings a cavalcade of surprise super-peers to experience the city’s hospitality (a true indication of Drizzy’s stature and respect among pop and R&B’s elite) — The Jungle Tour is a solo love letter from Drake free of celebrity distraction (except for the occasional voice-over, like Rihanna’s on “Take Care.”)
With his three-piece band (keyboards, drums and DJ) relegated to the sidelines and a 32-song set largely extracted from his recent If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late mixtape, a bearded, orange windbreaker-adorned Drake jumped and moved about the stage with the energy and intensity of a prize fighter staking his territory.
A thoroughly engaging, charismatic and multi-faceted performer who alternates between spoken word and song, Drake has the gift of connecting with his audience on an unassuming level and he employed it to full effect on Tuesday night, fuelling his peeps with a beguiling mixture of hook-filled old and new material.
The well-paced set continued to build excitement as it progressed, with the payoff coming near the end of the show with a medley of hits that included “All Me,” “HYFR,” — splitting the arena into duelling choruses — and the high-spirited energy of “Started From the Bottom” and “10 Bands.”
So it may be a jungle out there, but Drake is the king of it with his flair for the vernacular, providing a couple of hours of worthy escapism fit for the city where his most loyal subjects reside.