Last night, 60,000 or so people and I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Eminem’s biggest show to this point. After he roared his way on stage with a park-shaking Won’t Back Down, he looked around the crowd for a second and simply muttered, “Holy shit, there’s a lot of you fuckers out there.” He quickly established a sense of camaraderie between him and the audience which lasted throughout the set, prefacing many of his songs with a phrase that began “This one goes out to anyone who…” Performers interacting with their audiences well always gives live shows more sticking power, but the fact that Eminem was doing it with the largest group of people I’ve ever seen really gave the show exceptional life and vitality. It helps that no one else can do what Mr. Mathers does, but his natural ability to connect with people on a myriad of levels tied this concert with LCD’s final show as my favorite so far of 2011.
Eminem organized his concert into emotional categories, usually based on his album development. When he launched into Cleaning Out My Closet, his gift for crowd control had the whole audience in a ‘screw authority’ type mind frame and ready to belt out his well-known parent-displeasing lyrics right along with him. Instead of the music video on the big screen behind him, he ran through a practical slideshow of revolutionary images, spicing up the happily angry crowd even more. Eminem masterfully utilizes rap to tell a true story and everything his mind thinks without sacrificing lyrical genius. His understanding of how to use language makes his songs so relatable, so passionately energizing and truly a gift to music lovers. Even though he cut many of his songs short last night, only going through 1 or 2 verses before playing the hook of another song and firing up the crowd again, he proved exactly why he is the most successful performer out of rehab, and probably will be forever.