Eminem: The Real Slim Shady

Today has felt a little empty without Slim Shady standing up in front of me.

Excuse the terrible use of Without Me references but it’s a bit hard to not want to incorporate Eminem into everything I do after that magnificent show last night.

This weekend Western Springs was packed out with 50,000 plus people all dead keen to finally see the hip hop star live in action on our shores. And I feel confident he wouldn’t have let a single soul in that audience down.

Eminem taught me, along with plenty more 90s teen who listened to far too much Westlife, to love rap music. He was always ahead of the pack, creating music different to what we knew before and that’s never changed. That fact became particularly evident last night when his earliest hits such as the Real Slim Shady and Stan were still as relevant today as they were all those years ago when they first hit the airwaves. In fact, perhaps even more relevant.

The gig was a spectacle, I think the sheer number of people in the crowd made that obvious, spectator numbers didn’t dwindle even when not one but two big name back up acts, Kendrick Lamar and Odd Future didn’t make it to the event. Everyone was there to see the Real Slim Shady and that’s exactly what they got.

Despite it taking 15 years for the rap legend to make it to little New Zealand, he didn’t perform like a has been. His act was fresh, filtered with crowd rousing new songs like Rap God and pop hit Monster while the oldies were done in medley form meaning no favourite jam was missed out and the crowd could attempt their best imitation, rapping every word as if they were the first they ever spoke.

It was a pure joy to hear oldies Like Toy Soliders, Sing for the Moment and Stan with their chilling choruses enchanting the crowd. Then came a great song to finish the set, Afraid. The audience stepped into its echo role and belting out every word of the chorus and Slim, despite dripping with sweat, rapped with as much energy as the start of the set. It was brilliant.

But the gig wasn’t anything until the final encore and everyone in the crowd knew what was coming: Lose Yourself. The song everyone hears play at every party, on every road trip and in every pub across the country made for the ultimate rap battle. It was a hilariously awesome moment of coming together with everyone singing to their acquaintances beside them, both old and new, with an infectious enthusiasm. That is one moment I will never forget.

In an hour and a half long set with almost 30 songs played there was no loss in energy from the 41-year-old, real name Marshall Mathers. It was everything I’d dreamed of as a child while listening to his music secretly in my bedroom with my brother, quickly switching the radio off when mum came to check if we were asleep.

Last night I well and truly lost myself.

Come back rap god, I reckon there are 55,000 Kiwis ready to see you again, and we’re not keen to wait another 15 years to witness such a concert once more.