Snoop Dogg confirmed his place as an unshakeable hip hop legend when he ever so casually graced the stage in Auckland on Saturday night.
Fans were more than ready to see what the irrepressible US star was going to deliver with 15,000 people packing every inch of The Trusts in Henderson. As the lights went down, a pre-recorded video package created waves around the crowd, showing the star of the show walking down a corridor as if he was making his way to the stage in real time.
The intensity of “Carmina Burana: O Fortuna” put smiles on faces as the dramatic centuries-old composition accurately captured the magnitude of the event about to unfold.
For his long-time supporters, this moment mattered; for one woman I know, it was the first time she and her husband were getting out to a show since she’d had her last child. That kid is in school now.
Snoop Dogg had plans to prove he appreciated their dedication to his music – he’d told me so when he hopped off his private plane just a few days earlier (watch below).
After Snoop confidently moseyed onto the stage, the sounds of the orchestra seamlessly transitioned to “The Next Episode”, just one of his classic Dr. Dre collaborations, and bellows of “la-da-da-da-dah” from across the grounds indicated it was time to let Snoop shine. Phone screens were whipped into the air as his loyal fans quickly tried to capture the moment.
Just over 30 years since he first popped up on Dr. Dre’s debut solo single “Deep Cover”, Snoop has undoubtedly secured his place as a global superstar. He’s sold over 35 million albums around the world across his 19 releases and here he was in Auckland, clearly determined to play as many of his biggest hits from them all as possible.
Hits like “Gin and Juice” were obviously included, while he also played mainstream songs like “Signs” with Justin Timberlake and his Katy Perry collaboration “California Girls”.
Hawkes Bay rapper Tom Francis had the tough spot filling an interlude in the middle of the show, and the audience seemed unprepared for the break and became disengaged. Francis performed “Lifestyle”, his 2019 collaboration with Snoop, before moving into an energetic performance even as the flow seemed to dissipate.
When Snoop made his return, he launched straight back into it by giving a nod to Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G. “Biggie Small rest in peace,” he yelled as appreciative encouragement came back from those below him.
There’s no denying that the rapper’s fans also emulated Snoop’s appreciation of the green stuff. A strong aroma of marijuana was as much part of the overall atmosphere as the iconic beats and impassioned sing-a-longs.
Snoop’s longevity in the game was reflected in his efforts to keep the crowd on their toes. We felt included when he turned the microphone to us for the most well-known hook, telling the crowd “help me sing this” and “say what?”
Even listening to him give Katy Perry’s hook a crack was a moment to remember, with the rapper belting out with no little flair, “California girls we’re unforgettable / Daisy dukes bikini on top”, getting even the burliest of men singing along too.
He also regularly triggered a series of shrieks and screams when he made his way over to the women doing their thing on the two poles either side of the stage. The move to source local dancers to appear on his stage was not new – he’s actually been doing it for years, including in Christchurch and his recent shows across the ditch in Australia.
Just like Snoop Dogg, the women were incredibly skilled at their craft, looked super happy to be there and played a part in creating a vibe on stage that reflected the music they were representing; in fact, they were so content on stage they carried on long after Snoop had finished his set.
He closed out with “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?)”, before “Young, Wild & Free” created an electric energy with everyone merrily chanting the words into the night sky with a slowed piano accompaniment. The 51-year-old departed soon after, bowing out the same way he started – on a high.