Review: Anderson .Paak at Victoria Warehouse

With his band, The Free Nationals, in tow, Anderson and co. set Victoria Warehouse alight from start to finish.

By Manchester's Finest | 26 March 2019

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As the final drum-fill fizzled out, sitting comfortably behind his elevated drum kit, Anderson .Paak humbly uttered, “we used to go to shows and nobody would care”.

But after three critically acclaimed solo albums, show-stopping work with the likes of Chance the Rapper, ScHoolboy Q and Kaytranada, it’s an idea that’s now very hard to fathom.

Riding high off of 2018’s soulful, gritty ‘Oxnard’ album, the Grammy-winning rapper-singer-drummer from California has come a long way since his early days as Breezy Lovejoy.

Lovejoy would release a few projects, but as he returned to his government name, .Paak’s luxurious blend of soul, hip-hop and electronica was thrust into the limelight through his mesmerizing work on Dr. Dre’s ‘Compton’.

Now a Dre-signed prodigy, Saturday’s high-octane antics began with hard-hitting tracks such as the trap-influenced ‘Bubblin’, and the militant ‘Who R U?’, both featuring drums that could give ‘2001’ a run for its money.

.Paak’s continuous blending of genres ran throughout his set, opting to turn ‘Put Me Thru’, a cheeky ode to crazy relationships, into a up-tempo glam-rock anthem, while ‘Trippy’, a song with a name as woozy as its instrumentation, was brought to life through psychedelic visuals and a captivating reprise of the track’s chorus (“Somewhere in between/you and I will always be/come meet me in the middle’).

Image: @thekatalysts

Unlike other high-profile music artists who too-often feel untouchable, .Paak’s vulnerability and humility have been key in making him such an enamoured figure. His struggles are well documented in his music; family issues, bouts of homelessness, romantic failures, mid-20s angst.

Cuts such as ‘The Waters’ and ‘Saviours Road’ provides direct insight into his come-up (“God, if you existin’, help my momma get acquitted/if they plottin’, then help me see it before they get the drop on me”), while ‘Heart Don’t Stand A Chance’, a smooth fan-favourite from 2016’s ‘Malibu’, paints

.Paak as a man eager for intense romanticism, all well from behind a drum kit. The showman makes you admire him, but the human makes you love him.

Live music concerts can sometimes be the setting for intoxication, or simply a super-sized karaoke session. Instead, Victoria Warehouse was the setting for a spectacle, with thousands baring the rain to witness a future legend flourishing in his prime.

As the show closed with ‘DANG!’, .Paak’s 2015 collaboration with the late Mac Miller, and ‘Cheers’, the sobering ultimate track to ‘Oxnard’, the diverse crowd may have gone home feeling sombre, but .Paak’s spine-tingling performance left them speechless.