‘Ohh Kendrick Lamar’: Geordies turn Utilita Arena into St. James’ Park for rap superstar
Geordies make arena show feel like packed St. James’ Park with chants galore and love for Kendrick Lamar.
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When the Geordies love someone, they make sure they know about it. Just think about the arrival of Bruno Guimarães at St. James' Park in January or the outpour of love for Sam Fender as he headlined the Utilita Arena for two nights in April.
Whether it be goals and assists in front of the Gallowgate or representing the North East on the biggest of festival stages, their links to Tyneside are evident. Hailing from Compton in California, 5,000 miles away, you'd be forgiven for thinking rap star Kendrick Lamar wouldn't be regarded with the same religious fervour when visiting Newcastle.
You'd also be wrong. The acclaimed Grammy Award-winning artist, who headlined Glastonbury this summer, is afforded a frenzied love from a packed arena crowd often only reserved for local heroes. At one moment during the night Lamar stands silent on the stage's runway, illuminated only by the glow of phone torches as 11,000 people chant, 'ohh Kendrick Lamar' - close your eyes and you'd think you were at a rowdy St. James' Park minutes before kick-off on matchday.
If you did arrive at the Utilita Arena unaware that Lamar was held in such regard wherever he goes, you'd certainly leave without needing any more convincing. The star takes Newcastle through over 100 minutes of hits and deep cuts, turning the whole floor into a mosh pit at one moment and silencing them with the lift of a finger at another.
Everything Lamar does on stage comes with purpose - this Big Steppers production is potentially the most genius that the Utilita Arena has ever seen. As well as the main stage, the 35-year-old makes use of a platform jaunting out halfway in the crowd. Big, bold lights fly through the air to follow his every move. 'Alright' is performed in a Covid-inspired safety box and Helen Mirren booms out over the loudspeakers to narrate the evening.
The Geordie crowd becomes its most feral when support act Baby Keem - Lamar's cousin and star in his own right with over one million social media followers - bounds back on stage. Egging each other on from opposite ends of the huge runway as balls of fire are thrown up behind them, 'family ties' must have the whole city shaking.
It's no secret that Geordies have impeccable taste in music - and they sure have got this one right.