DETROIT — It was labeled a “weekend of concerts,” but the turnout was more like that of a super-sized convention. About 100,000 people from all over the country proved this past weekend that despite not having a new album drop in over a year, Slim Shady truly is a modern-day hip-hop messiah.
“Eminem’s God!” screamed a man from Lansing, Michigan, Saturday night. He was just one of the fans who had traveled to Detroit’s Ford Field from just about everywhere imaginable to see Em perform in only the second show he’s played this year. His third and last scheduled Stateside concert took place at the same venue Sunday. With the biggest rap show on earth taking on more of a rock show feel, a sea of hands stayed swaying up and down in the air with people yelling and cheering for Em and opening acts 50 Cent and Missy Elliott.
When the curtain opened to show the same carnival set Slim used on the Anger Management Tour last summer (see “Eminem King Of The Carnival At Anger Management Tour Launch” ), two video screens that hung high above the right and left sides of the stage read “A few weeks ago.” Pre-filmed footage of a phone conversation between the evening’s star and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick then aired with his Honor calling Europe, where Em was touring. Kilpatrick asked his city’s most popular figure to come play a show in Rock City.
Em obliged, but first, he said, he had business to attend to. Footage of Em going out on his balcony and imitating the Michael Jackson baby-dangling incident (see “Eminem Dangles His ‘Baby’ Jacko-Style, Gives Nauseated Fan His ‘M’ “ ) played, but then the screen cut off due to electrical difficulties. After five minutes of standing in the dark, fans applauded as the video finally came back up.
On the screen, Em and D12 member Proof were greeted by a liquor-swigging chauffer (it turned out to be Kid Rock), who drove them up to the stage. That’s when the accordions from “Square Dance” began wheezing.
Like a small elite group of his peers, Em’s live command of the mic is normally flawless. Although this show was no exception, his microphone gave him problems, and on a few songs you could barely hear Em’s vocals due to feedback and other issues — not that the crowd seemed to notice. The problems didn’t plague the Sunday show.
On Saturday, the livelier of the two shows, there were virtually no lulls in either screams or vigorous body movements from the fans. D12 joined the fray for several songs including “Fight Music” and “Purple Pills,” where psychedelic purple and yellow lights were cast on the arena. The video screens showing the performance also displayed a distorted fisheye look, making the group’s heads seem much larger than their bodies.
“How many people out there have had beef with their mothers?” Em asked the crowd out of the blue.
Proof then instructed everyone to yell “F— you, Debbie!” as the music for “Cleaning Out My Closet” started up. It literally looked like everyone — from 40-year-old men wearing dress shirts to little kids rocking basketball jerseys — were living vicariously through Em as they vehemently flooded the stadium singing the chorus.
Slim Shady then spotlighted the next act to come from his Shady label, Obie Trice, with “Drips” and “S— Hits the Fan.” That led to 50 Cent coming onstage again, joining the duo for “I Just Wanna Love You.”
50 and Em then rocked Rock City with “Patiently Waiting.” Later, Em rode atop a Hummer that was sitting out in the crowd back to the middle of the audience, rhyming the words to “Lose Yourself” with a giant sign that read “8 Mile Road” hanging down from the rafters, inches from his head. After a ride back to the stage to perform cuts such as “Sing for the Moment” and “Without Me,” Slim Shady closed the curtain on the Eminem Show with the grand finale, “Rap Game.” The crowd seemed just as amped and ready to party as when they first walked in the arena and when 50 Cent and G-Unit along with D12 came back out to perform their posse cut.
As on his Rock the Mic Tour outings, 50 started his show off with an actor imitating Frank Sinatra and singing “New York, New York.” 50 only had about 7 feet from his skyscraper set to the edge of the stage as opposed to the 18 feet he has on the Rock the Mic Tour. This led to him having to make some split-second adjustments in the air when he finally made his entrance. Unfortunately, not calculating the distance correctly led to him taking a spill on the floor.
It didn’t matter, though, as he immediately won the crowd over with the potent one-two musical punch of “What Up Gangsta” and “Wanksta.” Next, 50 continued taking blows at Ja Rule’s career with a snippet of “I Smell Pu—” followed by “Backdown.” Even people who came just to see Em and were not familiar with 50 or Ja followed the rap He-Man’s order to put their middle fingers in the air. And with tens of thousands of single digits raised, 50 voiced his disdain, “F—Murder Inc.”
But even with the resounding approval 50 got on both nights during the “Work It” remix and “Magic Stick,” there was no doubt that the weekend belonged to Slim Shady.
“Eminem is number one to me,” 50 proclaimed Sunday night. “He gave me my shot.”
Missy Elliott was definitely in the giving mood as she opened both shows with songs such as “She’s a Bitch” and “Get Ur Freak On.” Besides throwing freshly autographed sports jerseys and sneakers into the crowd, Elliott also gave of herself — literally — as she ran out on the floor and even into the bleachers to get love to fans.
“I ran all the way around this muthaf—a,” Missy huffed playfully before she brought out Monica out on both nights to perform “So Gone.” “Somebody better say something, holla!” she said.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.