“It’s a show about nothing!” goes the famous meta gag associated with Seinfeld. Though said declaration would serve as a general plot synopsis for numerous lazy writers, the truth is that the brainchild of Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld was about plenty of things, not least being a bloody brilliant run of television. For all the excellent performances, perfectly cast bit players and clever little details, it always came down to the strength of the material.
How fitting, then, that current pop culture phenomenon Drake hits Dublin on the back of a tour named after an inferior sitcom. Indeed, the Toronto native’s Boy Meets World extravaganza comes with polish, panache and a spirited performance from its headline act, but when you break it all down you’re left with, well, a show about nothing.
There’s no depth here, no substance. The production is spectacular even if its chief attraction comes across like a strange IKEA version of Kanye West’s ceiling of blazing lights from his ill-fated Glastonbury turn. Said lights dip and dive and twist and turn and it’s all very pretty, as are the various gilded accoutrements that pop up here and there, from fireworks to flames to rising columns to surprise dancers to a gloriously silly giant balloon globe thing that takes almost five minutes to form before the encore plays out.
But yeah, it all comes down to the tunes and Drake doesn’t really have them. You wonder if even he recognises this disparity given so much of his set is essentially Medley: The Gig. And so we get snatches of songs as Drake hits his spots – which includes saying the word ‘Dublin’ to the point that it loses all meaning – and lets the crowd do a lot of the heavy lifting. At times it’s like watching a Randy Orton match; it’s professional, it’s slick, it has its moments, nobody’s going to get hurt or upset and well it’s all a bit dull isn’t it?
Honestly, even a track like ‘Hotline Bling’ feels oddly perfunctory by its finish. That said, there are moments where you see what this could be, particularly an opening run of ‘Trophies’, ‘Started From The Bottom’ and ‘Headlines’ which results in an expected frenzy that speaks to the power of an arena show packed with giddy disciples.
In fact, the majority in attendance often create more noise than a My Bloody Valentine/Mogwai team-up gig – though it’s strangely not as deafening as sections of Macklemore in the same venue last year – even if Drake’s strained attempts to whip up a mosh pit during ‘Energy’ results in the tamest shoving match this town has ever seen. It’s champagne for his real friends and real pain for his sham friends tonight – you’re either all about that bit where he did some of that Rihanna song or you’re as bemused as you were upon walking in.
In summary; ¯\_(ツ)_/¯