Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Snoop Dogg / Maverick Sabre / Beardyman (?) @ The Institute, Monday 16th May 2011
Thanks to a ‘bit of a queue’ (it took nearly 50 minutes to get in tonight) we managed to miss Maverick Sabre (and presumably Beardyman?), both of whom had finished by 8.30. For some reason security was super tight this evening and everyone was patted down and checked for weapons. Weapons? Seriously? Is Snoop still the threat to civilisation that he was painted as being back in the day? Was there actually a threat of the East Coast / West Coast rivalry kicking off again in Digbeth? I think not. Anyway, having eventually got in and secured a prime balcony spot there was plenty of time to chill as Snoop remained in his kennel until just after 10pm. Why’s the balcony such a prime spot at a Snoop gig? Well, warm air rises right? And given the quantity of weed being consumed down below before lazily curling its way skywards it was a little like being in a giant bong up there. Sweet.
In terms of living hip hop stars Snoop’s pretty much royalty, a fact subtly acknowledged by the giant painted throne on the stage backdrop. So, when the great man finally graces us with his presence, the crowd predictably goes seven shades of mental. What follows was a blistering run through the hits with Snoop at various times being joined by his posse or a trio of writhing, thrusting, gyrating, gynaecological hip hop honeys. Nothin’ but a ‘G’ Thang, Next Episode and Gin n’ Juice were all despatched as rapidly as a Blood at a Crip’s birthday party, with Snoop constantly exalting the crowd to put their “motherfuckin’ hands in the air”. The motherfuckers generally obliged, a sea of hands bouncing up and down in unison like a pimped up ’62 Impala.
After warming up the crowd Snoop took things to the next level with a cover of the Noel Coward classic, ‘I Wanna Fuck You’. Ruminating on the power of the ‘erb “When I say icky, you say sticky” (although we might still have been on the whole ‘fuck business’) there was a quick blast of Smokin’, Smokin’ Weed (I think...I was off my face at this point) before moving on to a tribute to the fallen. Clearly Snoop’s mellowed over the years (must be all that weed), although he always seemed to be less inclined to create ‘beef’ than 2Pac and Biggie. In the spirit of forgiveness both of these bitter rivals were embraced in the show along with the more recently departed Nate Dogg, a victim of multiple strokes rather than gunshots in March of this year. Touchingly Warren G held a lighter aloft for this bit, his partnership with Nate on Regulate responsible for one of hip hop’s true crossover classics. It wasn’t all a history lesson though. A David Guetta remix of a track from the new album (Doggumentary), entitled Wet, was no doubt inspired by Snoop’s previous visits to the UK and his unfortunate habit of getting caught in the rain. Probably. A dedication to the beautiful ladies in tha house, saw Snoop unveil his Sensual Seduction, one of his better tracks from the last few years, before delivering a crowd pleasing snatch (hmmmm...unfortunate word perhaps) of House Of Pain’s Jump Around. This seemed to go down better than any other track of the night, with the dancefloor becoming one giant mass of bouncing humanity. The set finished with Drop It While It’s Hot and, what else eh, What’s My Name? After just an hour he removed his sunglasses and looked us all in the eyes, promising he’d be back one day and wishing us all “Peace, Love and Souuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul”. And with that he was gone, just leaving one of his posse to invite young ladies backstage to 'meet' the Dogg himself. No doubt for a cream tea or sausage sandwich perhaps?
On the plus side it was an upbeat, fun show, you got to see a true legend of hip hop in da flesh, doing his hits, and most of the crowd seemed to go home happy, but I couldn’t help feeling that Snoop was just through the motions. At times the backing tracks seemed to be doing a lot of the work (was he miming to Wet or was the vocoder effect being added to his live vocal? Hmmmm...not sure) and, once you strip away the hip hop honeys and shouting posse, it was actually all a bit insubstantial (especially given the £30+ ticket price). How about a live band to add a little more soul? How about some more freestyling? Why not get the support artist/s up for some collaborations? Perhaps when it comes to his live show it’s time for this particular Dogg to learn a few new tricks eh?