Nicki Minaj Gets Assist from Lil Wayne, Drake at New York Fan Appreciation Show: Concert Review

Larry Busacca/Getty Images
Nicki Minaj at the Roseland
The prima donna of hip-hop delivers a wacky, colorful performance with costume changes and special guests galore.

The Trinidad native's first official headlining show in NYC also includes guests Cam'ron and Foxy Brown and is streamed online.

Pop star Nicki Minaj performed at the historic Roseland Ballroom in New York City on Tuesday night, her first official headlining concert in the Big Apple. Billed as the Pepsi and Nicki Minaj Fan Appreciation Concert, the two-hour show was part of the star’s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded World Tour and was live-streamed online and in Times Square by the soda company. The concert also was filmed by Fuse TV.

After pulling out of a Hot 97 radio concert in June, somewhat controversially, Minaj vowed to make it up to her local fans. And thanks to Twitter and various online sources,fans queued up outside of the venue Tuesday in hopes of scoring wristbands to see the show. With a few years of package tours and guest appearances at area shows by Lloyd Banks and Jay-Z under her belt, Minaj was due for her own show in New York.

When the curtain dropped at 9:30, a packed house of screaming fans pressed forward, cell phones in the air. There were so many females in attendance the men’s room was made unisex for the night. Onstage, two staircases were flanked by video screens, and Minaj appeared in a long blond wig, sporting high-top sneakers and black leggings that highlighted her famously cantilevered figure. Opening with “Roman’s Revenge” from her latest album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (Cash Money/Universal Republic), Minaj sashayed about, backed by four shirtless male dancers. Her voice was strong as she moved through the frenetic song, growling and screeching her rhymes.

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“Is New York in this bitch?” Minaj tweaked the crowd as local rap star Cam’ron joined her for “I Am Your Leader,” later taking the mic for his own lascivious “Suck It or Not.” The singer stopped the show briefly to plead with the crowd to move back so no one would get crushed in the throng, as security held fast on both ends of the stage. Minaj followed with “Beez in the Trap” and “Stupid Hoe” and moved about with her dancers. There was no live band; only DJ Headache and hype man Safaree, who kept the audience animated as Minaj exited for costume changes.

The singer returned for the high energy of the multiplatinum Eurodance numbers “Starships” and “Pound the Alarm.” Costume changes and spoken-word breaks marked the night as much as music. Dressed in a white gown reminiscent of her first album cover, Minaj addressed her fans, whom she refers to as Barbz. Her vernacular, like many of the lyrics to her songs, varies from kooky to coarse to wickedly self-aware and funny. At one point she ended a story about bad boyfriends, “I will cut a motherfucker!” before sweetly cooing, “Shout out to Pepsi!”

Minaj went deep and brought rhymes from her early mixtapes “Itty Bitty Piggy” and “Go Hard,” from Beam Me Up Scotty, and “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop,” from Playtime Is Over. While the verses delighted the crowd, many of her songs were rendered as snippets and not performed in their entirety, as she made a long medley of her work. If this was a distraction, it mattered little to those in attendance.

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Minaj also made time for more special guests, which finished the last half-hour of her show. A vivacious Foxy Brown joined for two songs, “Oh Yeah” and “Get Me Home,” and Drake and Lil Wayne caused near-seizures when each took turns with the star. Drake duetted on “Up All Night” and “Make Me Proud,” and Lil Wayne -- the Svengali who helped launch Minaj -- appeared for “Take It to the Head.” Drake and Wayne shared the mic on “The Motto” before Wayne freestyled a rap and made a grand exit, dropping his mic and throwing his arms up.

Minaj returned for the big finish with her first big hit, “Superbass,” and made time as the crowd began to file out to thank the people who participated and helped her.As the show was filmed, streamed and captured by various cell phone video, Minaj was able to deliver an unforgettable performance as she promised, to be cherished by her fans for a long time to come.

Set List:

Roman’s Revenge
Did It on ’Em
I Am Your Leader
Beez in the Trap
Stupid Hoe
Dance (A$$)
Right by My Side
Moment 4 Life
Pound the Alarm
Whip It
Turn Me On
Fire Burns
Save Me
Itty Bitty Piggy
Go Hard
Sweet Dreams
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop
I Get Crazy
Roman in Moscow
Roger That
Come on a Cone
Dutty Dutty
Hold Yuh
My Chick Bad
Bottoms Up
Up All Night
Make Me Proud

Twitter: @THRMusic