Set to headline Reading and Leeds this summer, Post Malone was looking to hype up British audiences early at the Manchester Arena on his European tour. After Roddy Ricch and Tyla Yaweh performed as support acts, Malone emerged from a large black shoebox with the siren calls of ‘Broken Whisky Glass’.
For an otherwise nonchalant figure, the 23-year old delivered a surprisingly mature vocal performance. He had consistently strong vocals through a variety of fused genres. Leg rocking like an old-time country singer, Post Malone kept his flow tight when rapping and hit his notes when singing. He even put former heavy metal band experience to good use screaming in ‘Blame It On Me’. This was particularly impressive after the singer apologised (unnecessarily) for a bad cold supposedly affecting his voice.
Between the interludes of each song, his warm and lively character shines through. Slurring his words and clutching his red house party cup, Malone lit up the second-most expensive onstage cigarette of his career, incurring a £3,000 venue fine. If they wanted a show from someone who cared, they shouldn’t have booked the guy with “Always Tired” tattooed onto his face. More professional though was the fantastic lights show. There were impressive deep red washes, stage smoke, and stylised footage which complimented Malone’s confidence as a solo artist.
Despite great performances in ‘Candy Paint’ and ‘I Fall Apart’, for large parts the set-list became an indistinct ocean of bass which meant an acoustic break was a much-appreciated reprise. Softer solitude was offered with ‘Feeling Whitney’ and ‘Stay’ which pleasantly disrupted the show, allowing for a break. Having said that, an immediate return to hit track, ‘Leave’ recaptured the audience’s excitement. This burst of energy was direly needed, yet it still fell short. ‘Leave’ isn’t a bad song (maybe he’s a Brexiteer). However, live at the Arena, a banger like ‘White Iverson’ or ‘Rockstar’ would have been much more effective.
Unsurprisingly, the latter was a particular highlight when Malone finally reached its fervour. Post Malone’s most popular song with 1.4 billion Spotify streams, ‘Rockstar’, was performed with energy and familiarity. Here, rapper 21 Savage was one of few feature artists to have their vocals played out; any mention of his recent plight however, imprisoned by US ICE in an alleged “targeted operation”, was jarringly absent. A shout-out was in order at least.
Post Malone sang 21 songs in total (surely not some cryptic tribute), although many were shorter than record length with feature vocals cut. Then came the speech. If Post Malone’s rapping is laconic, the same cannot be said for his speeches. After droning on about following your dreams and never giving up, Malone walked out after an again snipped ‘Congratulations’. In total, the show was less than one and a half hours, speech included, encore sorely lacking.
Post Malone does not particularly bring anything new to hip hop besides setting a new record with the number of his face tattoos. What he does possess however, is an ear for hits, and is clearly working hard to push himself further. However, these gems were often lost in the vast set-list of trimmed tracks and bass-heavy narratives.
Although not a bad performance; some more effective set-listing choices would certainly have made it better.