If anyone deserves a happy ending to his touring schedule - at least one without controversy - it's Canadian rapper Drake.
Since announcing his Would You Like a Tour? trek earlier this year, Drizzy hired his opening act, Future, fired him when he threw shade on Drake's Nothing Was the Same album, then rehired him. Drake feuded with Pusha T, Kendrick Lamar, and managed to sneak in a few disses at his 2012 rival Chris Brown.
He walked away from his spot on the live Grammy Nominations Concert last week, citing some weird schedule conflict. Oh, and he cancelled his Philly concert in October - the night of, with the Wells Fargo Center full - because (he said) he thought his suspension-bridge staging looked shaky.
Drake, thank goodness, made up for all the badness of 2013 on Wednesday at Wells Fargo, the last date of his tour, with a program of hauntingly atmospheric hip-hop and surprise guests.
Rather than go for the raucous and the up-tempo from the start, Drake did a brave thing. He and his live crew went to the moody, the slow, and the spacey, with fluid bass lines, subtle rhythms, and soft swells of ambient music shrouding Drake's low-pitched, nasal, sung-spoken cadences. In that setting, bathed in icy blue light, tunes like "Headlines" and "Crew Love" could almost have been highlights from a Radiohead gig.
When Drake got to his new "Tuscan Leather" and its famed third verse - "How much time is this [unacceptable expletive] spendin' on the intro?/ Lately I've been feelin' like Guy Pearce in Memento" - you had to giggle at his self-referential brilliance. As with the rest of his new album, Drake has moved away from rap's braggadocio and the cliché of the stripped-down beat - and into densely layered thought and sound.
This doesn't mean that Drake and company eschewed fun and funk. His take on "Versace" was jittery, and "Pound Cake" was a frenetic free-fall. The cutting grooves and ominous atmosphere of "Worst Behavior" (a weird clash of mindsets, paternal rage versus conspicuous consumption), and his version of 2 Chainz's "No Lie," revealed that Drizzy was ready to ball.
Guests like Big Sean, Jhené Aiko, and Philly's Meek Mill brought the party, but ultimately Drake was best by himself, through music that was cold and lonely.