Drake has a well-deserved reputation as the grumpiest rapper alive. But as he opened a two-night stand at 3Arena, it was in the guise of world-class flatterer.
"It’s good to be home," Drake, from Toronto and resident in Los Angeles, proclaimed, to shrieks from the young and excitable attendance (at any moment at least 50 per cent of the audience seemed to be recording the entire concert on their phones).
He has been giving much the same stump speech throughout the European leg of his Boy Meets World tour. Yet the buttery compliments were backed by a performance of verve and conviction.
Uniquely among the hip hop elite Drake can sing as assuredly as he can rap and here he swung between soulful falsetto and a hard-punching rhymes .
He led the sell-out room through lilting versions of Hotline Bling and One Dance, effervescent smashes that helped make Drake the most streamed artist in the world last year, with 4.7 billion plays on Spotify alone.
As with many superstar rappers, he is equal parts myth-maker and musician. Started From The Bottom, for instance, framed his career as victory in the face of impossible odds (he’s a actually former child actor from a middle class neighbourhood).
There was also lots of his trademark moodiness, with the 30 year-old prowling like a panther with a toothache during Headlines and Still Here.
He commanded the stage with considerable authority – when Drake stopped up to plead with punters near the front to cease fighting, they fell quickly into line.
If the music was melodramatic, the production was minimalist with a vengeance. Drake performed without the standard dancers and backing vocalists while a bank of giant rotating bulbs was the only concession to showmanship.
But the show wasn’t about spectacle – it was about making Drake’s audience feel as if he was reaching out to each of every one of them. On those terms, it was a triumph.
The National Concert Hall begins its centenary celebration of the Russian revolution with a welcome visit from the St Petersburg Philharmonic. In spectacular form under artistic director of almost 30 years, Yuri Temirkanov, the programme’s main work is Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony - a piece closely associated with the orchestra since its première in 1937.