@ Margaret Court Arena
Reviewer – Kelsey Hentschel
J.Cole is an American hip-hop recording artist and record producer. The last time Cole was in Melbourne was almost four years ago with Eminem on the “Rapture” tour. He is now back and better than ever with his own headline tour “For Your Eyez Only.”
Opening the show was four artists signed to Dreamville records, the label owned and operated by J.Cole himself.
The night kicked off with a bang, as Ari Lennox, performed her opening set. A perfect way to begin the night. Getting everyone hyped with her loud and energetic R&B, Hip-hop tunes. If given the chance definitely go see Ari live.
Next to hit the stage was rap duo Earth Gang. This high intensity set included an abundance of crowd involvement, even at one point having the whole arena chanting along “Fuck Donald Trump”. J.I.D followed the boys form Earth Gang, only to bring them back out for the majority of his set. J.I.D is a fast paced rapping machine, someone who needs to be seen to believed. Last but not least was BAS, it was impossible to watch this set and not have a grin plastered across your face. It was so obvious that he loved what he was doing. With so many openers there was very little time between each performer, meaning the crowd remained hyped and never experienced a lull in excitement.
Once it became time for the main event. The black curtains dropped revealing the stage. It is set as what appears to be a prison yard, complete with barbed wire and an abundance of surveillance cameras. From this prison, J. Cole emerges through the prison gates wearing an orange jumpsuit, and immediately launches into “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, the first track off his latest album “4 Your Eyez Only”. The energy in the room is electric you can feel the excitement pulsing though the bodies packed so tightly together in this sold out arena. When Cole performs, his energy is unrivalled by any other live performance I have seen. Bounding all over the stage and shouting out each line as if he was performing the song for the very first time. Add to that the crowd excitement and it becomes pretty hard to match on a recorded album.
Cole powers through the first four songs, only pausing after “Ville Mentality” to explain the meaning behind the song. Its about having that live in the moment mentality, where the future doesn’t matter, nothing matters but the here and now. The kind of mentality the Cole admires. It was then when he politely asked that if only for this one night, could we all live in the moment with him.
Ari Lennox came back to the stage at this point to sing a rendition of “Change” with J.Cole. It was something a little bit different. Her vocals definitely added a little something extra to the track.
J.Cole seemed genuinely surprised when the entire crowd sang back word for word the lyrics to his next four songs, which he claimed were for the fans that have been with him since day one. He didn’t like to assume that the audience would be familiar with his early work, and kept stating, “I don’t like to assume, you know. Because you could be wrong”.
Continuing the night with one of my favourite tracks “Neighbors”. A song about a neighbour of Cole’s who called the police under suspicion that Cole was dealing drugs from his home. Causing Cole’s home to be swatted. Mid way through this performance he showed the actual footage of the Swat team raiding his home.
Following this crowd pleaser was a song Cole self proclaimed “a bit weird” called, “Foldin Clothes”. “At the end of the day it really is a song about fuckin’ laundry,” exclaims Cole, a celebration of ordinary domestic life, not exactly a topic that’s been embraced by hip-hop and rap artists over the years.
No obvious big pop hits, no profile-boosting guest stars, and yet here he is, filling arenas with fans who have his lyrics memorised word for word. Impressively, the sound of the crowd shouting along to Cole’s most popular tracks, “A Tale of 2 Citiez”, & “No Role Modelz”, threatens to drown him out all together.
Its clear that J.Cole doesn’t like to assume anything, but I think he’d be safe in assuming that he just put on one of the best live shows of 2017.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Can’t Get Enough
A Tale of 2 Citiez
No Role Modelz
Check out Ziggy Cross’s gallery of this show HERE