Drake meets Shania Twain at Nashville concert
By Dave Paulson
August 15, 2016
The most streamed, most meme-ed — and by those standards, the most popular — performer in the world made an overdue return to Music City over the weekend.
Hip-hop sensation Drake's "Summer Sixteen" tour stopped at Bridgestone Arena on Sunday. In honor of "The 6" - the Canadian rapper's nickname for his native Toronto — we honed on six defining points of the sold-out show.
His Canada and Tennessee roots collide (with Shania)
Drake is famously a native of Toronto, Canada, and rarely does he finish a verse before singing the praises of his hometown. But he also has significant ties to Tennessee. His father, musician Dennis Graham, lives in Memphis, and Drake visited the city frequently as a kid. Graham was in the building on Sunday, as well as several other family members. By extension, Drake considered everyone in the Tennessee audience to be his "family."
And his Canada and Tennessee roots mixed together in a one-of-a-kind way on Sunday, as Canadian country star Shania Twain — who's been working on new music in Nashville — came to the show and visited Drake backstage.
Drake (@champagnepapi) on Instagram: "My WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday) even though it's Monday. Shania."
"I grew up a fan," he told the audience. "I just want to say that, like, Shania Twain came to my show tonight, you know what I'm saying Nashville? So this next set, right here, I'm doing this for Shania. This is my love set for Shania, right here."
Even in person, he rules social media
When Drake came into view of the packed house in Nashville, finally, the star they'd seen in YouTube videos, memes and GIFs for years was right in front of them, in the flesh. So what did they do? Naturally, they pulled out their phones and beamed him right back onto social media. Snapchat was the app of choice for this crowd, and those documenting the night were pointing the camera at themselves as much as the stage.
Future's halftime show
Imagine going to see The Rolling Stones, and halfway through their concert, Mick Jagger announces, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, David Bowie!' Then Bowie does all of his big hits plus a few odd ones, and then Mick joins him to do their cover of "Dancing in the Street." It would be pandemonium in that arena, right?
That's essentially what happened when Drake — who'd really whipped the Nashville crowd into a frenzy in the first hour — ceded the stage to Atlanta rap star Future for a mini-solo set. Future has chalked up a ton of smashes, but unlike Drake, not enough of that appeal has translated to the stage. Still, he was deployed brilliantly on Sunday, injecting substantial street cred into the production while giving Drake a good half-hour to catch his breath.
An electric crowd
"I know we're living through some crazy times in America right now," Drake told his audience at the end of the show "But I just want you to understand what tonight was. See, tonight, in this building, we had 14,000 beautiful people, from all races and all places getting together, drinking, smoking and enjoying music and showing love, and I appreciate that. So I just want you to take this concept right here, and apply it to your life, and I promise, that's how the world's going to keep spinning. We gotta love each other and protect each other."
Drake follows his own schedule
How charismatic and captivating is Drake as a performer? When he hit the stage at 9:25 p.m., it seemed as if everyone in the arena had instantly forgotten how impatient they'd felt after waiting nearly an hour and a half between him and the opening acts. Later, he proved to be a master showman, as he may have made up a battle between him and Bridgestone Arena.
"What they try and do, is when we're in buildings, they might call downstairs and be like, 'You know, you guys are over curfew. Drake has to get off stage.' And that's kind of what's happening right now, unfortunately," he told the crowd a few minutes after 11.
"It's just like, all due respect. I love the building, everybody in here, and all of that, but I gotta let them know, whoever's calling down, I don't give a f___. I'm with Nashville, Tennessee. I can't leave you! I'll never leave you."
He continued to perform just past 11:30 p.m., but it's worth noting that Madonna was able to perform until 1 a.m. earlier this year, with no apparent pushback from the venue.
Drake has too many hits to mention, and too many for him perform in one night, at least in full. Highlights included "Hotline Bling," "One Dance," "Started From the Bottom," "Controlla," "Hold On, We're Going Home," "Know Yourself," "The Motto" and "Back to Back."