I'm not the biggest fan of rap music, but went along to see Eminem with an open mind and high expectations, considering the almost mythical-like musical status that someone at Eminem's level of success can demand.
The two opening acts, Danny Brown and Odd Future, were awful. I didn't know who they were before the show and won't bother to remember them. Watching them was painful and most people subjected to it seemed slightly confused and bemused. I was pleased when they finished.
Then came the moment that everyone was waiting for, Eminem. Entering behind a big white curtain and motoring through hit song after hit song, even the most cynical music fan must admit his back-catalogue is incredibly impressive - a steady stream of multi-million selling worldwide Number 1 singles.
The show moved quickly, with Eminem performing shorter versions of songs to try and fit in as many as possible - with a set-list of (very impressively) over thirty songs it was the biggest set of any concert I'd ever been to.
No breaks or costume changes ensured the crowd of more than 80,000 were kept busy and engaged with the performance. A brief video to open the show worked well and provided a good introduction to the opening song.
Eminem performed well and clearly gave everything he had to put on a show - the crowd feeding off his energy and responding with equal enthusiasm, he is a superb performer.
The issue with the show was that we couldn't hear it, which is somewhat problematic for a concert. Vocals appeared muffled and non-singing moments when Eminem was addressing the crowd were virtually inaudible from where we were. All we could hear from the speakers was a low, continuous, deep rumble of bass and echo. Of all the shows I've ever been to, this was the worst sound system I've ever experienced.
Occasionally, one of Eminem's team would encourage the crowd. Although as we were unable to understand anything, something that sounded faintly like 'London make some noise!' came across as 'mmmmmmmmmm Londooon mmmmmmm' and that was about as much as we could grasp from the speakers.
The crowd were excellent. Continuously singing and chanting along - although I think many people played their own concert in their head, relying on those who could hear slightly more to give their own out-of-tune sung musical directions as to what was occurring on stage. Some songs I only recognised from the crowd singing them and not from the stage.
Dr Dre, who I'm aware of but not too familiar with other than his production of those hugely over-sized and over-priced headphones, made a special guest appearance. It was hard to hear anything he said, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it. I felt Dre looked a little rusty in comparison to boundless energy of Eminem.
The staging was slightly unimaginative. Few special effects and no props ensured that the set was rather less than you would expect to see from a stage show for artists such as Beyonce or Robbie Williams for example. Perhaps a little more imagination would've worked well here, a few fireworks, more sparks and set changes would have made it a little more visual.
A screen at the back of the stage provided for some animations which helped the atmosphere of the performances. The band were good and played well (from what we could hear). Two screens either side of the stage were pointless, one was switching on and off for much of the show and the other had a delay of a few seconds, which is a seriously long time for a concert.
I could hear people and see messages complaining about the sound and sent a message myself to Wembley Stadium during the performance. They acknowledged there was an issue and the sound did improve towards the end of the concert. Still, considering the ticket price and build-up that the concert was given, an issue like this for half the show is unforgivable and totally unacceptable. It should have been picked up in rehearsals or sound-check.
I enjoyed the second half of the show more, with Eminem wheeling out hits such as 'Love The Way You Lie', 'Stan', 'Without Me', 'The Real Slim Shady' and a truly memorable rendition of 'Lose Yourself'. Despite the rumours, there was no appearance from Dido or Rihanna.
The atmosphere was superb, although certain members of the crowd were somewhat unfortunate. Many people were extremely drunk, I couldn't understand why they would go to a concert and spend a fortune on tickets only to be too drunk to remember anything the next day.
I also disliked how much was thrown. Cups of beer, water, peanuts, food, clothing. Why anyone would think it was remotely useful to throw a cup of beer (bought for a ridiculously inflated price from the stadium bars) on to other people is completely beyond me. Many people were smoking, which wasn't pleasant.
The audience was mainly made up of young men, with a surprising amount of older middle-aged people attending who were aged forty-plus. Attendees of all ages gazed up at Eminem like the symbol of their teenage years, a beacon of their adolescence, ready to do whatever he commanded of them.
It was a good night, good atmosphere and good experience, despite being spoilt by disgracefully bad planning when it came to sound and a few unsettling attendees around us. A few more effects would have been nice and a somewhat more sober audience would've meant more people would have awoken this morning actually remembering what they saw last night. Eminem was excellent, a truly great performer who deserves the plaudits and success he receives.
Stage and Set: 3/5