Kendrick Lamar closed out the formal tour for his “Damn” album a week ago in Miami, so the show he delivered Sunday to close out Day N Night Fest in Anaheim didn’t need to be the same one he delivered in August over three nights at Staples Center in Los Angeles and once at Honda Center in Anaheim.
But it was, almost down to video clips and pyrotechnic cues. And for a minority of fans at the fest at Angel Stadium that surely was a minor disappointment — no restructuring of the set list, no guest stars to add something unexpected — the only significant change coming via the elimination of a handful of songs to trim the show from the 80 minutes he did in the arenas to the hour the festival allotted.
But maybe that’s just me — I got a bone to pick — admittedly a little spoiled by seeing him first at Coachella in April, when he debuted a lot of the material off “Damn,” and again on his opening night in Los Angeles. Because the vast crowd that packed the parking lots where the festival was staged was absolutely buying what Kendrick was selling, and why not? He remains one of the most interesting and mesmerizing performers in music no matter the stage or the songs performed.
Lamar’s set opened with the “Kung Fu Kenny” faux-exploitation flick clip he’s used all year on tour and the nine songs that followed were in the exact order they arrived at his Staples and Honda Center shows earlier this summer, kicking off with “DNA” and “Element” from the new record, stepping back an album for the fiercely funky “King Kunta,” and on through such terrific tunes as “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and “Backseat Freestyle.”
After those last two, both of them songs from his major label debut, 2012’s “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City,” he paused to note with pleasure all of the “Day 1 fans” in the crowd, using that sense of their loyalty to him over the years as a segue into the song of the same name — “Loyalty.”
It is truly impressive to witness the way in which fans react to his music and performance, the crowd pulsating to the beat, hands held aloft to punch the air as they sang along.
So I guess there’s no need to quibble if the main visual change in the show was that Lamar dressed down a little bit — gone were the martial arts-styled outfits he’d worn on his earlier dates, replaced by a white pullover hoodie with that risque photo of Lil’ Kim squatting in a leopard-print bikini as a promo for her “Hard Core”…