Photograph by: Michelle Traianedes
I've seen a lot of live hip hop shows over the years. From legends in their own right like Eminem, Drake, J.Cole & Kendrick Lamar. New comers like Futuristic & G-Eazy to local heat seekers like Francois and Zhane White.
Up until September 3rd 2017, the most awe inspiring show I had ever been to was Drake's sold out show last year. The way that the three time grammy award winner was able to command an arena full of thousands of people was something I had never seen before, well not to that level at least. It was truly one of the most amazing things I had ever witnessed; and then Tory Lanez came to Melbourne.
After having listened to T. Lanez since back in 2012, watching him grow from "Wooden beads" all the way to "Say It" it's safe to say that I was most likely one of his most long term fans among the couple of thousand people in Melbourne's The Forum.
The great thing about this event was that the vibe was strong from the beginning of the show. As the venue began to fill up, the opening acts began to warm the stage and on September 3rd Melbourne was blessed with quite the line up. First up was Melbourne main stay, JJay De Melo. This kid is possibly one of the city's most entertaining performers. A rapper, singer and dancer, he took the stage with his squad and set the mood with ease.
Next up we had the final home town opener, Xeus. Coming off of a couple previous massive tour slots including the Tyga tour. Xeus put on a solid performance taking us through a mixture of original tunes and heavy hitting covers such as "Panda" and and "Mask Off" before thanking the crowd and allowing DJ Willi to take hold of the stage for a while.
Here is probably a good place to note that not only did DJ Willi support Tory Lanez at this event but his company, World Star Music, was also responsible for bringing the young Toronto track killer to our shores. That surely deserves some applause on it's own being one of the best urban music tours that this country has ever seen.
Next up we had one of my favourite performers of the night, not only because I had never seen him perform before but because he was actually just as good live as he is in the studio, Anfa Rose. Making his stage debut on this tour, he put on a world class performance bringing out the extremely talented Joy to assist him on the keys. Playing all of his smash hits from "Absurd" to "I'm Good". By this point we were about an hour and a half deep into the show and the vibe was still so strong!
What came next was a high energy set from one of the country's best acts period, Manu Crooks. This is the second or third time we have seen him live now and its so clear why this Ghanian kid is taking Australian music in general to new heights. Last time he had visited Melbourne city was the Stormzy tour so he was no stranger to the massive Forum stage. In a way only Manu Crooks could do, he set it off just right before the main event. Playing songs from his recently released EP, "Mood Forever", it won't be long until Crooks has his own tour and we cannot wait!
Finally, came the moment I had personally been waiting for since 2012. Tory Lanez was about to take the stage. Now, many of us had seen videos on youtube of Tory Lanez live shows so we were aware of just how crazy the vibe was about to get. But I honestly don't think that any of us were completely prepared for what was about to happen.
It's almost like the crowd started screaming when he stepped on stage and just didn't stop for about an hour. That's not even an exaggeration. Lanez and his band took us through a series of his hit songs including "LUV", "Makaveli", "Anyway", "Diego" and more. He even had a really cool moment where he literally freestyled a whole song on stage with the crowd while the chords for "LUV" played in the background.
But why did I say that up until September 3rd Drake had been my favourite performer? Well Drake commanded an arena of thousands of people, it was truly a cool experience and something that should be commended. But up until that early September evening, I had not seen another artist match the stage presence of arguably one of the greatest hip hop artists of our time. That night, Tory Lanez matched Drakes presence. In fact, that night I am pretty sure we all forgot Drake existed for a moment.
Toronto must really put something in their water because up until September 3rd, I had never seen a performer not only spend at least half an hour crowd surfing (half of that time on his feet). But also have such a presence that he was able to stop the set mid song because he lost a shoe whilst surfing the mass of people, have his shoe returned, put it back on whilst still being held by adoring fans and continue the show as if nothing happened. Just take a second to picture that for a second and that image should be enough to give you an indication of how alive hip hop was in this city on that night.
It's safe to say that we give the show a 10/10 hands down. His final words before leaving the stage were "I promise you, I will bring back real music." Tory Lanez, if you are reading this, we cannot wait for your new project! Please come back and when you do come back, please wear the Blue Jays jacket that Melbourne thanked you with.
Check out our recap video below: