Review: Eminem at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, February 24th, 2019

Back in early 1999, Marshall Mathers, a young rapper from Detroit was gearing up to release his second, and first major-label, album. Titled The Slim Shady LP, the record was produced by former N.W.A. member Dr. Dre, and would go on to kick off the career of one of the genre’s most revered artists.

However, when tracks like ‘My Name Is’ and ‘Just Don’t Give A Fuck’ were tearing up the airwaves, few could have guessed that 20 years later, that same artist would be breaking concert attendance records in Australia.

Yes, returning to Australia for the first time in five years on Sunday night, hip-hop icon Eminem performed the penultimate date on his latest trip down under with a visit to Melbourne’s MCG, just one day after the 20th anniversary of The Slim Shady LP.

Breaking a record in the process, Eminem’s concert attracted a massive 80,708 fans, eclipsing the previous record set by 2009’s Sound Relief concert in the process.

Touring in support of his most recent record, 2018’s chart-topping Kamikaze, fans were always going to be in for a treat though, with hip-hop fans young and old pouring into the venue to catch a glimpse of the undisputed King of Hip-Hop.

Eminem performing live at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
Photo Credit: Jeremy Deputat

As the eager crowd slowly began to fill the massive stadium, the energetic Boogie took to the stage, expressing his excitement at the growing crowd.

“This shit looks super lit,” he exclaimed before kicking into an all-too brief set that saw him playing some tracks from his recently-released debut album, Everythings For Sale.

With a casual, easy flow, Boogie was well-received by the crowd, with this performance serving as the introduction to this artist for many in attendance

After dedicating his track ‘Nigga Needs’ to the lives of late rappers Mac Miller, XXXTentacion, and Lil Peep, Boogie tore into his third and final track, ‘Self Destruction’, before bidding the crowd a seemingly-premature farewell.

With only 15 minutes to his name, this set undoubtedly served as a taster to the immense talent held by this rising artist, with many clearly set to revere him as a new favourite in no time.

Check out Boogie’s ‘Self Destruction’:

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Before long, the Melbourne crowd welcomed Royce da 5’9” to the stage, just two months on from his first-ever Aussie headlining tour.

Regardless of the quick turnaround, it was clear that the audience couldn’t wait to see the celebrated artist back on stage once again.

Kicking things off with 2018’s ‘Woke’, Royce da 5’9″ was eager to show his fans what they had been waiting for, showcasing tracks from him stellar career, including Slaughterhouse’s ‘Microphone’, and PRhyme’s ‘Streets At Night’.

With an inimitable energy and desire to give his all, Royce da 5’9” barely let up for a single second, getting every member of the front pit jumping up and down during performances of ‘Summer On Lock’, and Bad Meets Evil’s 2011 anthem, ‘Lighters’.

Of course, with his Bad Meets Evil co-conspirator Eminem scheduled to hit the stage later that night, some fans questioned if we would see an onstage team-up from the famed duo.

While many already knew the answer, others were left wondering about the good things that might still be to come…

Check out Royce da 5’9”’s ‘Summer On Lock’:

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As the evening continued, it’s clear that the biggest support for the evening was set to be the Hilltop Hoods, with the Adelaide crew taking to the stage to the sound of widespread applause.

Backed by a horn section and Plutonic Lab on the drums, the stage was set for a mammoth performance as they kick into a huge rendition of 2009 anthem ‘Chase That Feeling’.

Trading verses and rhymes, MC Suffa and MC Pressure made it look all so easy, turning DJ Debris’ tunes into stadium-filling singalongs, as ‘I Love It’ and ‘The Nosebleed Section’ rang out through the MCG.

Soon, the stage fills up just a little more as they welcome onstage fellow Adelaidean Adrian Eagle for a mesmerising run-through of ‘Clark Griswold’ and ‘Live & Let Go’.

After winning the “biggest crowd they’ve ever played to” over with performances of ‘Leave Me Lonely’, ‘Rattling The Keys To The Kingdom’, and ‘Cosby Sweater’, the band take their leave from the stage, having showcased to the Melbourne crowd the gold standard for support acts.

Check out the Hilltop Hoods’ ‘Leave Me Lonely’:

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As almost every available spot in the MCG filled up with eager fans, the excitement was palpable, with joyful chatter discussing what the evening’s main event might look like.

However, conversation was soon halted as the stadium’s light went off one by one, and a brief video presentation was plastered on the screens. As the energy continued to build, the introduction to ‘The Greatest’ filled the air, as Eminem burst onto the stage decked out in grey hoodie and sweats.

As the ecstatic crowd bounced like an overactive trampoline, Eminem spat pure fire as his backing band (complete with guitarist, drummer, and string section), delivered the musical accompaniment that bolstered the set.

Joined by hype man Mr. Porter, the pair plowed through hits at a speed reminiscent of Eminem’s rapping style, fighting against a rather poor sound mix that saw Mr. Porter’s vocals overshadow Eminem, while the backing music tended to drown them out at times.

Regardless, the pair powered on, delivering hits like ‘3 a.m.’, ‘Square Dance’, and ‘Kill You’, with the latter shocking everyone in attendance due to the frighteningly-loud finale of gunshots.

Of course, this was just setting the scene for everyone to be blown away when the Rap God himself played his titular track showcasing his supersonic flow to deafening cheers which ironically drowned out said flow.

Check out Eminem’s ‘Rap God’:

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As phone flashlights illuminated the stadium for the likes of ‘Sing For The Moment’, ‘Like Toy Soldiers’ saw Eminem bring up rap beefs of old (with Suge Knight indeed getting a mention this time around).

After taking time out to reminisce on the legacy of The Slim Shady LP, Eminem decided to use the opportunity to bring the crowd’s middle fingers back into the air.

“Because The Slim Shady LP is 20 years old, that means that Slim Shady is more than 20 years old,” Eminem explained before jumping into ‘Just Don’t Give A Fuck’. “Which is why I get to act like a fucking asshole.”

Complementing this early classic with the equally-powerful anthems ‘Fall’, ‘Criminal’, and ‘The Way I Am’, Mr. Porter took his leave from the stage, providing an opening for singer Skylar Grey to fill the gap, and allowing Eminem’s rapid-fire lyrics to shine.

Dishing out mesmerising performances of ‘Walk On Water’, ‘Stan’, and ‘Love The Way You Lie’, Mr. Porter returned during a rendition of Nicki Minaj’s ‘Majesty’, as it became clear that the whole evening was set to get kicked up another few notches.

Check out Eminem’s ‘Love The Way You Lie’:

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After polishing off amazing versions of ‘Berzerk’, ”Till I Collapse”, and ‘Cinderella Man’, Royce da 5’9” took over the stage for a solo rendition of ‘Caterpillar’, only for Eminem to fill out the Bad Meets Evil reunion with a run-through of ‘Fast Lane’.

Appearances from Boogie and Skylar Grey again amped up the audience, before Eminem closed out his main set with a dizzying array of hits, including ‘My Name Is’, ‘The Real Slim Shady’, ‘Without Me’, and 2010 anthem ‘Not Afraid’.

Of course, dedicated fans knew that we were far from the end of this already-amazing evening, as images of a starry night appeared on the video screen, standing in stark contrast to the seemingly-starless night around us.

As chants for Eminem filled the stadium, the opening notes of 2002’s ‘Lose Yourself’ rang out, indicating that all hell was about to break loose. As that iconic riff pumped through the arena, a deafening roar rang out, as it became clear that no one could escape the iconic flow and lyrical mastery of Eminem’s seminal tune.

After an absolutely explosive rendition of the track, Eminem, Mr. Porter, and the band bid their farewell to the Melbourne crowd, thanking everyone in attendance for their undying support throughout the years.

While it’s now been over 20 years since Eminem broke into the mainstream with The Slim Shady LP, his Melbourne performance provided everyone with a chance to reflect back on the legacy of this iconic artist, letting them know that he’s still at the top of his game.

With his performance style, songwriting, and jovial attitude still as fresh as ever, it’s clear that the next 20 years are going to be just as memorable for the hip-hop legend. Here’s to many more milestones to come!

Check out Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’:

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Eminem @ Melbourne Cricket Ground 24/2/18 Setlist

‘Greatest’
‘Won’t Back Down’
‘3 a.m.’
‘Square Dance’
‘Kill You’
‘White America’
‘Rap God’
‘Sing For The Moment’
‘Like Toy Soldiers’
‘Lucky You’
‘Forever’ (Drake cover)
‘Just Don’t Give A Fuck’
‘Fall’
‘Criminal’
‘The Way I Am’
‘Walk On Water’ (with Skylar Grey)
‘Stan’ (with Skylar Grey)
‘Love The Way You Lie’ (with Skylar Grey)
‘Majesty’ (Nicki Minaj cover)
‘Berzerk’
”Till I Collapse’
‘Cinderella Man’
‘Caterpillar’ (Royce da 5′9″ solo)
‘Fast Lane’ (Bad Meets Evil song) (with Royce da 5′9″)
‘Rainy Days’ (Boogie cover) (with Boogie)
‘River’
‘The Monster’ (with Skylar Grey)
‘My Name Is’
‘The Real Slim Shady’
‘Without Me’
‘Not Afraid’

Encore:

‘Lose Yourself’