Review: J Cole at HBF Stadium, Perth, 9 December 2017
Concluding his 4 Your Eyez Only tour, J. Cole constantly expressed how much he couldn’t believe that, even all the way in Perth, people knew his music. Humble and sincere, the set felt like we were at an exclusive album listening party as well one of the best hip hop tours of 2017, explaining the meaning and stories behind multiple tracks.
The stage was set with imposing CCTV cameras in each corner around a prison yard complete with concrete walls, barbed wire and guards. The gates finally opening to release Cole for the night, complete in an orange prisoner uniform, undoubtedly roasting in the 30 plus degree night.
‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’, a lyrically ominous and passionate track, showcased the rappers raspy vocals before launching into ‘Immortal’, ensuring anyone who already wasn’t on their feet remained so for the set.
The packed HBF Stadium was beyond hyped to see one of the most coveted names in hip hop, after everyone, but especially those standing, were all aware of how lucky they were to nab a spot. This was after some ticketing controversy, where tickets opened for sale an hour before the advertised time.
Fingers were demanded to be in the sky before ‘Déjà Vu’, followed by a pep talk on why we have to have a dream and that tonight is our moment.
“I be so worried about what’s coming in the future, imma try and control it, or I be already caught up on some shit that happened in the past, that a lot of the time I feel like I miss my blessings that might be right in front of me”, during ‘Ville Mentality’.
He has an ability to go from spitting lyrics intensely to speaking to the crowd sincerely and making it incredibly intimate, as if there weren’t another 5,000 people packed into the stadium.
Playing all bar four songs off his fourth album, it was not only a showcase of his critically acclaimed work but an ode to his day ones with tracks ‘Lights Please’ and ‘Nobody’s Perfect’.
Bringing it back to 2016, standout track ‘Neighbours’ was written by an enraged Cole after finding out his home in North Carolina had been raided by a 13 man SWAT team – helicopters and all.
After reaching platinum status on his first three albums he bought himself a modest house to turn into a recording studio in a nice suburb. “You know what I mean when I say a nice neighbourhood? A white neighbourhood, y’all look like you have a lot of nice neighbourhoods in Perth…” His neighbours were made paranoid by Cole and his friends coming in and out of the home and tipped off the police with false allegations of them peddling drugs.
Stopping the show, he shared the footage showing call of duty clad officers raiding his home, ripping down the surveillance cameras “once they realised black people can have cameras too”.
Following stories of SWAT teams, he still managed to have everyone just as amused for a track about laundry. Never has such a mass of young people been so excited by domestic duties as when ‘Foldin’ Clothes’ rang through about folding clothes, almond milk and Netflix after finally admitting to himself he has to do the right thing for his missus.
After bestowing enough wisdom Cole asked if it was ok if he played some old stuff and thanked us for complying.
After a brief departure from stage, “encore” was barely shouted before he returned. “I’m just playing, y’all knew we weren’t finished without this one” finishing on a high with ‘No Role Modelz’.
Proving he is one of hip hops best, his talent and flair for performing alone is enough to set him apart, but the confidence without the god like complex made for an unexpectedly inspiring hour and a half.