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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 June, 2003, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Rap for lifeless Eminem gig
By Ben Sutherland

Eminem is one of the world's most controversial stars
For something billed as the Anger Management Tour, there was very little to get worked up about at the first of Eminem's three gigs in Milton Keynes.

The last time the rapper appeared in Britain he was armed with a chainsaw - this time he entered on a slowly revolving miniature ferris wheel.

It was typical of a show that was full of glossy production but little real energy.

Though he both danced with a computer-generated image of his daughter and attempted mid-song magic tricks, Eminem was either unwilling or unable to make anything sound different to what would have come out of a stereo if someone just pressed play at the right moment.

Instead, he seemed content to rely on an assorted crew of other rappers who regularly interchanged with each other at various points during the show - including his group D12, Obie Trice, and hot new star 50 Cent - to provide the impetus and variety.

And shockingly for a gig into which so much time and money had been pumped into production, there were some appalling technical problems that badly marred the set.

The sound had previously gone down five times during the opening act of Cypress Hill, who eventually resorted to a five-minute drum solo, powerless to use any of their other instruments.

Glitch

By the time Eminem hit the stage this glitch seemed to have been dealt with - but a time-delay seemed to persist between what happened on stage and what appeared on the giant video screens.

This, coupled with sudden moments where the mic periodically went down for a few moments (particularly noticeable during The Way I Am), gave his performance a peculiarly stilted effect.

Fans simply chose to manage their anger by streaming out well before the end of the gig,

This was a shame, because there were enough well-staged set pieces to have put together something really impressive, and Eminem in top form - which he did on occasion reach - is undeniably impressive.

In an inspired move, he reversioned Stan by getting the crowd to sing the vocal parts performed by Dido in the original.

And the performance of Purple Pills with D12, with the rappers taking over from one another effortlessly, had the crowd rising as one.

Meanwhile 50 Cent stole the show with a pulsating display of raw rapping.

He bounded on stage, exuding confidence, and his energetic cameo with songs such as new single 21 Questions was a massive wake-up call for the crowd.

But 50 Cent was unknown six months ago and is a rapper on the rise - and therein lay the difference.

After all, once you've bagged three platinum albums and an Oscar, what really is there to try for?

Lethargy

But to be fair, perhaps the cause of the lethargy lay not with Eminem but the organisers of the show.

The crowd were buzzing on entering the National Bowl at 2pm, in not unreasonable expectation - so hyped has this gig been - that they were set to see the event of a lifetime.

But four hours later, no act had appeared - despite DJ Tim Westwood's repeated demands for the crowd to "make some noise for Eminem", and the mood had become one of bored restlessness.

When the curtain quickly went down on the luckless Cypress Hill, that restlessness turned to frustration.

Fans repeatedly began throwing bottles in the overly-long breaks between acts, which lasted for around 45-50 minutes. The police had to step in - amid much booing - when one fan was injured.

In the end, fans simply chose to manage their anger by streaming out well before the end of the gig, despite being urged from on stage to stay.

Before the show, such a thing would have been thought of as absurd. But after a gig that featured only tremors of brilliance in what was supposed to be an earth-shattering event, it seemed perfectly reasonable behaviour.




SEE ALSO:
Fans snap up Eminem tickets
01 Feb 03  |  Scotland
Eminem: The new Slim Shady
11 Nov 02  |  Entertainment


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