We are all familiar with one of the most quoted, famous tagline in modern tourism that can probably be dated as far back as the city itself: what happens here, stays here. That’s right, we’re talking Vegas. Of course, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas… unless it happen’s to be the brand new T-Mobile Arena opening weekend. T-Mobile first announced plans of their Vegas strip arena in 2013. With artists such as Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, Coldplay and more, one would expect an impressive opening weekend. T-Mobile definitely did not disappoint: opening weekend was jam-packed with a performance from Vegas locals, The Killers and a two-day sold out Guns ’N’ Roses reunion show. Sandwiched right in the middle? Nicki Minaj. Which is why you can count on us spilling all the tea about Minaj’s stunning performance.
Minaj took the stage April 7th with special guest, Ariana Grande. The sold out show was chaotic from the get-go. Fans crowded into the venue rights the doors were opened at around 8pm. The show was set to begin at 9pm — by 10:15pm the crowd was booing for the lack of explanation and still, no sign of Nicki.
Despite the delay to the stage (nearly an hour and a half after scheduled), when the lights dropped, the crowd went wild.Nicki began the night with “All Things Go,” which worked right into “Roman’s Revenge.” Her performance was unapologetic. Minaj, dressed in a beautiful, black, checkered fishnet-esque bodysuit was joined by two female and two back-up dancers. Nothing incredibly fancy, but anything flashy was unnecessary. The thousands of fans occupying every seat of the arena had their eyes glued to Minaj as she kept her energy high through the entire performance.
Minaj performed all of her biggest hits — from “Feeling Myself,” to “Only,” merged with “Truffle Butter” onto “Beez in The Trap” she kept us entertained, performing the best of each song in a high energy medley of hits. Nicki danced around the multi-tiered stage, hardly pausing between spitting lines. From a cover of Beyonce’s “Flawless” to Big Sean’s “Dance (A$$)” — which Nicki paused to bring a few very special fans to share the stage with her, spitting Nicki’s lines along side her. The fans were all smiles as Nicki’s glittery microphone was handed down. The group, made up of both male and female fans seemed to be absolutely speechless as Nicki took a step out of the limelight, allowing it to fall on the fans center stage. And they KILLED it! Nicki Minaj could be seen smiling side-stage as she watched with adornment to the fans before they handed the microphone back to the queen. Even those not brought up on stage were left thinking, ‘could it get any better than this?’ after such a touching moment. The answer? Definitely, yes.
The entire venue seemed to shake from the response from the crowd as the iconic high-school buzzer goes off for the much awaited, “Anaconda.” Minaj performs this hit flawlessly, dancing around stage while her performers (complete in parachute pants) show off moves that would certainly make MC Hammer proud. Twelve songs into Minaj’s set would’ve surely left us satisfied, but this was just the beginning to the evening.
As things slow down, albeit only briefly, Minaj decides to pay homage to the fans who have stuck with her from the beginning. She begins to play around, showing that sillier side that she’s known for, her bubbly, giggly self as she asks ‘Who remembers these?’ as she sings and raps songs from the beginning of her career. She takes it all the way back with Young Money’s “BedRock” before performing a few of Rae Stremmurd’s hits. Things hit close to home to Nicki — who has been preaching about the importance of being an independent woman (or man) as Minaj reflects on the importance of love and shares with us how despite being an independent woman, it’s still difficult for her to be so far from the man she loves. A beautiful collage of pictures display on the screens behind Nicki, shedding some light on her relationship with Meek Mill throughout the years as she performs “All Eyes On You.” Though, the somber tone lasts only long enough for the song to end. “Get On Your Knees” follows without seconds to spare and at last, Ariana Grande joins Nicki on stage to perform their hit for the very first time together on stage.
Now, we know this was Nicki Minaj’s show — but for a second, let’s just talk about Ariana Granda. She performs two songs alongside Minaj (they also performed “Bang Bang” sans Jessie J), which was impressive of and in its own. Both females are huge icons; incredibly talented, beautiful, you name it. Nicki’s rapping skills with Ariana’s vocal range? It’s magical. But Nicki allowed Ariana the stage, where she performed three songs. The first? A throw back to her beginning, “Be Alright.” The second? A debut of the never before played song off her newest album titled “Leave Me Lonely” and of course, her latest, the titled-track, “Dangerous Woman.” In all three songs, we were left in awe by Ariana’s voice. There is no denying the talent this lady possesses. It was an absolute treat to get to see her perform. Alongside Nicki, the two were mesmerizing as they danced together, hands on each other, bubbly and bouncing and full of smiles. But even alone on stage with nothing but a spotlight and a microphone, Ariana needed zero glitz or stage-magic to leave the crowd in a silence brought on by utterly speechless fans. Even for those who have never heard of Ariana (unlikely, but work with us) and those who came only for Nicki Minaj… the three songs she performed were hardly enough. Ariana Grande is incredibly talented and still, only at her beginning. We cannot WAIT for the release of her album, titled of course, “Dangerous Woman” which will be released in late May of this year.
The night couldn’t come to a close, not before the chart-topper, “Super Bass” which began Minaj’s encore. The song seamlessly blended into “Starships” just before the entire venue and the 20,000 amped up fans light up, courtesy of the wrist bands given, to various magenta and purple hues for “The Night Is Still Young.” Minaj sends us on our way with an important message: to follow your dreams, and not allow anyone to hold you back, not even yourself. The song is closed out in the expected fashion: with guest vocals from the beautiful Keisha Renee. Nicki motivates us, promising her fans that we are beautiful, we are worth love, flawless. Her message is strong and tear-provoking and while Nicki insisted that it was her fans that were absolutely flawless, she, herself is included in that notion.
The night may have had a few hiccups — this is only to be expected from a brand new venue. But Nicki Minaj? Flawless.