Gig review: Nas & Damian Marley

20:31, Feb 18 2011
Nas and Damian Marley
The crowd sing along at the Logan Campbell Centre.
Nas and Damian Marley
The crowd finds its groove at the Logan Campbell Centre.
Nas and Damian Marley
Nas and Damian Marley perform at the Logan Campbell Centre.
Nas and Damian Marley
Nas and Damian Marley perform at the Logan Campbell Centre.
Nas and Damian Marley
Nas and Damian Marley perform at the Logan Campbell Centre.
Nas and Damian Marley
Nas and Damian Marley perform at the Logan Campbell Centre.
Nas and Damian Marley
Nas and Damian Marley perform at the Logan Campbell Centre.

If you're a hip-hop fan, it doesn't get much better than seeing Nas rip through his 2002 hit Made You Look. And if you're a reggae head, the same deal goes for Damian Marley and his classic single Welcome To Jamrock.

So it was a massive thrill to hear both songs played back-to-back during the pair's joint Auckland show, as the Logan Campbell Centre's sold out crowd turned the venue into a heaving, seething sweatbox.

Incredibly, there were plenty of moments during the two-hour show to match it as Nas and Marley bought their joint tour, a celebration of their collaborative 2010 album Distant Relatives, to New Zealand for the first time.

The pair - Nas is often considered as the best rapper alive thanks to his classic 1994 album Illmatic, while Marley is the youngest son of Bob and has three acclaimed solo records under his belt - performed most of Distant Relatives together with a muscular eight-piece live band.

That included energetic opener As We Enter, a thudding Land of Promise, the military march of Strong Will Continue and a chilling version of Patience that sent tingles down the spine.

They were tracks that proved their collaborative approach is no simple genre mash - Nas' aggressive vocals and Marley's soaring, Jamaican-tinged voice are perfectly in tune.

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But, at times, they also left each other to perform material from their solo careers, and it was a ploy that worked a treat.

Dressed in a crisp white shirt, cargo pants and sunglasses, Nas ripped through an Illmatic medley as well as Hate Me Now, Hip-hop is Dead, If I Ruled the World and that thrilling Made You Look that had fans singing and bouncing along to almost every line.

With dreadlocks swinging around his ankles, Marley worked in a version of his dad's Exodus into his solo set that also included his own hits Road To Zion and the swaying lilt of All Night.

But the best was saved for last as Nas perform a stop-and-stare version of One Mic, complete with stunning African tribal drumming.

It proved that even with just the most basic of drum beats, Nas is one of the most compelling MC's in the business.

It was followed by a closing cover of Marley's dad's Could You Be Loved, performed to a crowd that by that stage was going completely mental.

Hip-hop shows in New Zealand are often criticised for being too short, undersold and in bad venues. But Nas and Marley proved that when they're done right, they can be absolutely spectacular.

Gig of the year? It's too soon to tell, but it would have to be up there.

* Were you at the show? Post your comments below.

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