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Drake with P. Reign and Francis and the Lights (Live) [Review]

Vancouver, B.C.Drake draws an interesting crowd. The Vancouver Centre for Performing Arts is kind of a classy affair, and the all-ages fans that filtered in to the sold-out event were both excited and, in one case, passed out on the sidewalk at 8 p.m.

Drake with P. Reign and Francis and the Lights (Live)

P. Reign opened the show to mad acclaim, coming out with an order for the crowd to put their hands up as he broke into some high-energy, tightly spit jams. Of course, the hit “Money in my Pocket” made an appearance – along with a reminder that he’s unsigned and wants, namely, some money in his pocket before he signs with anyone. And of course consistent chants of his latest single “In Da Hood” didn’t let the crowd forget where he came from: P. Reign is a pretty good inspiration for any young, ambitious rapper coming up from the streets, the boy done made good.

New York’s Francis and the Lights were up next, and it was interesting to see how the pop-soul band fit between the hip-hop of the streets and the hip-hop royalty that Drake has become. They had a smooth instrumental sound – drums, keys, guitar and the occasional tambourine shake – with the staunchy vocals of frontman Francis Farewell Starlite bringing it all together. Francis and the Lights had a few heads bobbing and although the crowd didn’t exactly eat it up and attention often waned, they warmed up to it with each eighties throwback.

Predictably enough, the audience was ready for the headliner they’d come to see, and Drake did not disappoint. Haters can hate, but that kid can croon, rap, seduce and generally enthrall any audience. He went through his whole catalogue of hits – reminding the crowd that he’s the first Canadian artist to go platinum in Canada and the States – with an earnest, cool demeanor throughout. “Forever,” “Fireworks” and “Money to Blow” had everyone dancing, backed by a live band of drums, keys, synth and a DJ.

Drake was ever the gracious host, introducing each member of his band as they broke it down, first funk style then reggae. He freestyled about his penthouse at the Pan Pacific and how many girls he’d like to take back to it, and incidentally, he’d like to “fuck every girl in the world.” And who said romance was dead? But he catered to the all-ages, female-heavy crowd and played his part well… wet dreams were had by all.

Taking down the energy, he sang “Find Your Love” nearly a cappella, with just a hint of musical back-up, followed by “Best I Ever Had” and, of course, finishing with “Over.” It was a somewhat mesmerizing display, and Drake proved that although not everyone is a fan of his music, the man deserves respect as a performer.

The night ended with the after-party at Fortune Sound Club, where Drake’s DJ Future the Prince spun the superstar’s favorite jams. In the meantime, Drake hung out in a heavily guarded area that only the hottest and most important members of Vancouver’s scene could access. Don’t ask me how I got in there, but my advice to you is: if you get to party with Drake and are handed free drinks all night, don’t hop on your bike and try to cut across town to get home. A hard ride and downright dangerous. But a fun night overall.

Written by Amalia Judith for HipHopCanada
Photography by Jamie Sands for HipHopCanada
Title photography by Ajani Charles for HipHopCanada

Drake with P. Reign and Francis and the Lights (Live)

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