by / July 12th, 2010 /

Oxegen 2010: Eminem

As the arrival of rap’s poster boy approaches, Oxegen is buzzing. With many of the assembled masses having waited since Eminem’s controversial cancellation of his 2005 Slane date to see their hero, the area in front of the main stage is by far the busiest it’s been all weekend. Five years, to be fair, is some wait, and when Eminem struts on stage complete with brooding hoodie and a sizable posse in the form of D12, large parts of the crowd absolutely erupt.

To be honest, State weren’t entirely sure what to expect of Eminem, but it wasn’t this. The crowd down the front are going absolutely nuts for their man, as he reels off hit after hit of lyrically quirky smashes, taking in everything from the Slim Shady era to slower classics like -Stan’ and -Sing For The Moment’, along with a spattering of hits from his latest Recovery. It’s all played out in front of the flapping arms and nodding heads of an ecstatic crowd. During the slower ones, though Eminem’s live show starts to really unravel.

There’s no arguing that Eminem has a personality that fills the stage, but the way he produces his music in a live setting has serious flaws. It’s not that it’s bad, just that aside from his vocals and accompanying crew, there’s little else on offer beyond a drummer and guitarist tucked away in a corner. We rarely hear them. Of the stuff we do hear coming out of the speakers, at least 70% is made up of pre-recorded backing beats. There are also large patches of female vocals from the likes of Haley Williams and Rihanna, yet no female singer gets anywhere near the stage. Eminem’s vocals themselves, of course, are impressive. They’re cuttingly sharp and packing plenty of punch, but – in the slower tracks in particular – there just isn’t very much of it.

We can’t argue with what’s there – it’s so similar to the recorded forms its startling – but from a purely musical point of view this is not all that different to playing a CD in a stadium. So much so, in fact, that the knives have already come out over Eminem’s T In The Park performance, where fans are suggesting he mimed; the Oxegen set list was identical bar the addition of -Lose Yourself’ as a closer. We couldn’t commit ourselves 100% either way. Though we’re leaning towards Eminem rapping so well that you can’t tell; equally we wouldn’t be surprised to learn there’s a bit of a vocal -mix and mingle’ going on here.

Not that it matters to this crowd. Eminem eggs them on from stage front, with D12 offering the bassy backing lyrics and strutting around beside him. Even the -medley’ quality of some of the older moments (the set squeezes in just under 30 tracks) and the irritating tendency to punctuate his music with an endless stream of -say what?’ (thrown in about 10 times a song) and a self-important -oh shit’ every time a new track’s dropped into the mix can’t damper the stage-front love in. This is a spectacle, a performance that’s more about theatre and drama than it is about music. Not, of course, that it stops a single person from singing along to -that one from 8 Mile’ (the reference to -Lose Yourself’ near the back) or the superb -Airplanes’ at the top of their voices.

Do we enjoy it? Of course, we do, though we also sneak off to catch a few minutes of The Prodigy during a lull halfway through. There’s no doubting, though, that the crisp sound – that at times has precious little to do with what’s going on up on the stage – has the musical purist in us crying foul in a big way. In an entertainment sense, Eminem was a total triumph, though His performance tonight is not even a fraction of what we’re sure he could produce should he try to push the more musical limits of his live show.

  • Now James that’s not fair. The guy has only played about 12 gigs in his whole career. Excuse him if he hasn’t perfected it yet :p

  • James

    Alot of emotion at this act apparently. Good thing Recovery turned out to be such a good record and he had new hits for the crowd.

  • James

    Heard girls were stripping off and screaming… Well he hasnt been able to achieve that with any of his Relapse era shows. I reckon he fed off the energy of such a big crowd.

  • diarmuid

    anyone know of the lad eminem dedicated like toy soldiers or whatever song it was to? i think his name was dave smith, eminem said he would have been at the show but died saturday night..I was in the blue campsite and beside my tent some man was like unconscious and had to be taken away in an ambulance and i was told that he was dave smith… Anyone know what really happened or who he really is?

  • Yemrot

    I dont think he was miming at all, its common practise in rap for the artist to have the chorus pre recorded when on stage just to give them time ro take a few breaths. Overall though however good Eminem was I thought Jay-Z was the highlight of the weekend with Em a close second.

  • trevor

    no dave smith was my friends uncle. he died of cystic fybrosis 4 days ago.

  • ah now he done more than twelve gigs in his hole career , in his europe tour he done about 8 or nine then around america over here etc etc he obviosly done more than what u think. youd no he wasnt lip syncing iswell , you obviously dont listen to rap music alot james

  • shane wabb

    you must have been at a different stage to where i was cause em nailed it. such a much better performer now. best day of my life.

  • shane wabb

    you must have been at a different stage to where i was cause em nailed it. such a much better performer now. best day of my life.

  • shane wabb

    you must have been at a different stage to where i was cause em nailed it. such a much better performer now. best day of my life…

  • Feminem

    You should see the Activision show about 2 weeks ago when he took Rihanna with him for Love The Way You Lie and what a falsetto shit she did…bring her for what? She sang horrible. Try some research before saying stuff like that, the dudettes are not that good as you think…and yes, he is miming the choruses because he doesn’t trust his voice enough. But he’s a rapper after all, he doesn’t have to sing like a soprana.

  • joe allcott

    I dont think James H was waiting to see eminem, I think he was just asked to write an article on his performance. He doesn’t understand how hard it is to rap 29 songs word for word without breathing. Thats why he had a hype man (kuniva) to say the last 2 words of every other line to take a breath. Physically, Eminem hasn’t ever been that lively on stage without being out of his face on drugs way back in ’02. I thought personally he was amazing, with an amazing track list..

  • djspanna

    What a terrible review punctuated with lots of references to the crowds elation but condescendingly implicating that they didn’t quite get it…….basicallly you are saying, “Now I didn’t approve but it is really hard for me to write the scathing review I had so hoped for when I can heardly hear myself think due to the sheer reaction from the crowd”. Get over it, he may have had his best days as a visceral rap superstar but the songs, wordmanship and his presence carried him through in a spectacular fashion

  • Michael

    I honestly do not know how this fella James has been asked to write a review on Eminem’s performance when he clearly hasn’t got a clue what he’s writing about! the amount of people i have heard that agreed with me when i said it was the best live act they’d ever seen. Mimin??? no way…

  • bill

    You should decide what tense to write your piece in & stick to it

  • Ruth

    I have to say that he was amazing at oxegen 2010. I loved him. I was ment to see him five years ago and was so dissapointed when he ddnt do it but he made it woth the wait. i would have paid doubled the money to see just him at oxegen. He was brilliant, and i cant wait to see him again if he ever does another show.