Snoop Dogg – Palace Theatre, Melbourne 22/01/14

Snoop Dogg had a rocky start to his Australian tour, following a call by a women’s group to revoke the legendary rapper’s visa. They claimed that his lyrics glorify violence against women and as such, could potentially constitute legal grounds for termination of his visa. However, the 2500 signatures gathered were not enough to keep the star from our shores, and he’s been touring the country as part of Big Day Out 2014, while squeezing in a bunch of sideshows too.

On the question of Dogg vs Lion, it was in his 2012 documentary, Reincarnated, that Snoop decided to explore life from a Rastafarian perspective following the death of good friend Nate Dogg. This is how he came to be reincarnated as Snoop Lion. In the doco he reflects on his life and chooses to move away from rap music, opting to enter the world of reggae, where, he says, he can invest more time in “peace, love and harmony.”

While he tried his hand admirably at the reggae thing, based on his performance at Melbourne’s The Palace, it seems barley a trace of that phase remains outside of a Rasta-themed backdrop on the stage. The three-story CBD venue was jam-packed and there was an air of delight in the crowd, who were visibly pumped that Snoop’s Australian sojourn went unimpeded.

The short but snappy one-hour set went down a treat with the crowd of longtime fans and the best-of setlist spanned across Snoop’s considerable discography. From the moment he stepped onstage, the crowd’s elation was obvious, electrified further when, early in the set, Snoop asked the crowd’s permission to light one up.

“When I say schticky, you say weed,” he proclaimed, and it was clear he had the audience’s blessing. The good vibes continued to flow as he moved into the party anthem Gin and Juice. Nasty Dogg was dressed in a giant dog suit and provided some light entertainment by pulling out what looked like a tail from the front of his pants. As the crowd cheered, Snoop stopped to say, “I don’t care if the crowd likes it, put it away, Nasty Dogg!”

We were treated to the traditional ode to Biggie and Tupac, before more crowd-pleasers like 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted and a cover of Kris Kross’s Jump, followed by Drop It Like It’s Hot, his 2009 hit collaboration with Pharrell Williams. The G-funk legend appeared to be at the top of his game, breaking only to toke on a joint. His hype-men and backup performers provided support and weren’t used as a crutch, as is the trend with so many modern rappers.

As Snoop broke in to Who Am I? (What’s My Name?), you could feel the night peaking like a smooth high. There wasn’t an idle head in sight. All were moving to the beat of the music. As the song came to a finish, the crowd let out an almighty roar.

Snoop thanked the gathered fans and the city of Melbourne for being “such an awesome place,” before moving into his 2011 weed-smoking anthem, Young Wild and Free, originally a collaboration with fellow imbiber, Wiz Khalifa. During his extended rendition of the track, he put the mic to the audience, who in unison sang the lyrics back to the man: “So what we get drunk, so what we smoke weed / We’re just having fun and we don’t care who sees“.

The 2014 Snoop Dogg (Lion?) tour probably won’t shock or surprise you, but it will reassure you. The man is still up there and doing it, every lyric on-point. If you’re a Snoop Dogg fan and you want to hear the hits, this show will certainly not disappoint. As for the eternal question, “Is it Snoop Dogg or Snoop Lion?” It’s not entirely clear, but one thing is certain about one of the world’s biggest rap icons: he’s still smoking as much weed as ever.

Gallery: Snoop Dogg & Major Lazer – The Arena, Brisbane 18/01/14

Photos by Davey Rintala

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