VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia — At least two girls in the throng of females that swarmed Verizon Amphitheatre Thursday night for the commencement of the Nellyville tour appeared to be delusional. Openers Amerie, Fabolous and the Cash Money Millionaires had already performed, the Band-Aid-wearing hip-hop crooner had just gotten onstage to do his thing, and these young women were debating each other like presidential candidates out in the crowd.
The ladies, who took off their high-heeled sandals so they could stand comfortably on the blue folding chairs to get a better look-see, weren't arguing about who had the best show, however. They were verbally head-butting because each felt they had the right to call Nelly their "baby's daddy," even though sitting 10 rows back from the stage was the closest they've come to meeting the platinum king.
But hey, if you can't have hope while visiting the land of dreams (or dream boats, judging by the way the females were screaming for Nelly and his crew of St. Lunatics, including emerging star Murphy Lee) that is Nellyville, then when can you wish upon a star?
Oddly enough, Nellyville's namesake ambassador didn't perform his town's anthem, but he did reach deep in his stash for some popular album cuts as well as his near universally embraced hits.
The fanfare started simply enough, with just a black curtain and a huge structure of words and numbers that read STLMO314 (symbolizing St. Louis, Missouri, and the area code 314, no doubt). Some of the letters and numbers had doors, which allowed the 'Tic members Kyjuan, Ali, Murph, Slow Down and Nelly to separately walk out with "Dem Boyz" playing as set-up music.
"We ain't come to play with y'all muthaf---as," Nelly, dressed in a black pilot jumpsuit like the rest of his rap troop, declared before shaking the venue with "E.I."
The guys then left and female dancers came on to wind and grind with Sean Paul's "Gimme the Light" blasting. The metallic big-up to his hometown was lifted back in the air and the black curtain was lowered, revealing the main stage set, which was a huge screen in the background and a set that looked like a cross between the front of a municipal building and a theater. A marquee that displayed the group's name also hung high above the stage.
Now with the gang all dressed in more comfortable uniforms of jeans, jerseys and T-shirts, Murph started things off again with his verse from the "Welcome to Atlanta" remix, and Nelly followed with his star-making ditty "Country Grammar." The two then performed the remix to "Roc the Mic," with Nelly's song-ending line of "Who the hell wanna ride?" segueing into "Ride Wit Me."
Things were rolling along rather smoothly during the set, with lulls coming few and far between, until a speed bump occurred during "Pimp Juice." The St. Lunatics had lined up side by side and somebody must've given a cue late because as the song began to play, Nelly's dancers came scurrying out holding mink jackets, trying to quickly help the rappers put them on. Nell got his coat so late he had to rap with the mink hanging halfway off, which probably worked out for the best, because the Midwest swinging fivesome look as natural wearing furs as Don King would look in cornrows.
After another quick wardrobe change — this time to personalized basketball warm-up suits — more familiar gear was highlighted. The man who speaks volumes with body language, Slow Down, hovered above the stage in a giant Air Force One Nike sneaker as his homies rapped the ode to their favorite footwear, "Air Force Ones."
"Give me two pair, I need two pair," the audience joined in as Slow held up his own red and blue remixed kick while the song went on.
Nelly continued with the doing-it-big motif when an oversized thermometer was brought onto the stage for another one of his omnipresent ditties, "Hot in Herre." With every few bars of his playful, barefaced words, the temperature on the thermometer rose.
"I got a friend with a pole in the basement," Nelly said, with his lyrics being drowned out by the crowd's rapping. "I'm just kidding like Jason, unless ya gonna do it."
Toward the end of the show, the two girls from the 10th row didn't seem as crazy as Nelly started looking into the crowd while rhyming the first verse from 'NSYNC's "Girlfriend" remix.
"I'm looking for somebody," he said, inciting girls to start jumping up and waving their hands at him. Ali quickly ended the search, however, when he called Nelly's attention to the huge screen that hung behind them. "I think I found you one," he said.
Kelly Rowland's smiling face appeared and she sang the opening lines from "Dilemma." "I love you/ And I ... need you/ Nelly I love you, I do neeed yooouuu."
As Nelly walked across the stage, rapping about how he wasn't going to fight over no dame but how he thought his leading lady was "gangstaaa," Rowland's face remained on the screen and she smiled and made googly eyes as if she could actually hear what he was saying before she sang the chorus. As the hip-hop love ballad came to end, Rowland crooned how she loved Nelly more than he'll ever know, while many of the enchanted females in the audience did the same, mimicking the night's headliner as he clapped his hands over his head.
Cash Money's Big Tymers, who performed a set before Nelly, also had a handful of tunes aimed at the ladies. There were shout-outs to "Hot Girls," honeys who "drop it like it's hot" on "Back That Ass Up," and girls from the 'hood who like to pull scams on "Project Chick."
The Tymers, composed of Baby and Mannie Fresh, kept the crowd rocking with their catalog of bangers, and like always, got a little help from their Cash Money cohorts. Boo and Gotti came out for "Oh Yeah," and Lil' Wayne, who stayed onstage for most of the set, helped Baby and Fresh get one of the most rousing minutes of crowd participation with one of the night's highlights, his cut "Way of Life."
"Don't you know it's a way of life… can't stop the stuntin' " sang the song's guest star TQ, to the crowd's delight.
The Tymers didn't have to look too far when they wanted to reach outside the family for guest appearances. VA Beach's own the Clipse joined the festivities for the remix of their hit "Grindin'," and got love from their hometown. However, Baby and Fresh took it upon themselves to close things out, with — what else — music suitable for rap's #1 Stunner/ Birdman, "Still Fly."
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.