DESTINY'S CHILD with NELLY and EVE at the Air Canada Centre, August 13. Tickets: $65. Attendance: 13,500. Rating: NN
you have to work hard to losean arena full of screaming pop fans.One way is to stop for a mid-set prayer meeting and let the "other girls" handle a few songs, as headliners Destiny's Child did Monday. Another surefire momentum-sapper is to shout for 45 minutes in a Midwestern slang that no one can understand, like Nelly and his St. Lunatics crew did.
For all their hydraulic couches and Def Leppard-style firebombs, neither Destiny's Child nor Nelly could rock the crowd the way you'd expect a multi-platinum artist to do. Spectacle, even overblown hiphop and R&B spectacle, can only go so far.
Nelly and his crew pulled out all the faux-thug stops, riding onto the stage in ATVs with massive chrome rims and shouting about porno and strip clubs.
Beyond the crushing bass and predictable hiphop shout-outs to "Toronto, Canada," their set was an indecipherable mess. Playing six-minute songs might have done wonders for Nelly's ego, but it left the crowd drained and baffled.
Destiny's Child fared little better. With an onstage circus that left no room for improvisation beyond shouts of "How ya feeling?," the Houston trio never made any real connection with the sold-out audience in front of them. Instead, their 60-minute set was like a buffed-up awards performance, complete with between-song interview clips and fast-paced, video-style editing on the screens behind them.
You don't go to these massive shows expecting an intimate sing-along, but for all the Supremes-style preening, you'd think Beyonce and pals could at least make things entertaining.
Instead, it was left to Eve to ratchet up the excitement level. Tearing the stage apart with typical Ruff Ryder energy, the sandpaper-voiced MC was all ghetto class and the most seasoned performer in the bunch, rhyming through songs by label boss DMX, dropping hits with ease and generally keeping her game tight.
No breaks between songs, no long-winded gospel sessions and nothing over three minutes. Perennial stage-wrecker DMX would have been proud.