Eminem, Rihanna Fire Up Stage in L.A.
When rarely Eminem performs live -- only two other U.S. shows are scheduled for the Detroit rapper in 2010 -- it's an event in and of itself. But, as headliner for Activision's E3 video game conference kick-off party at L.A.'s Staples Center last night, there was no denying the Detroit rapper would bring it.
Taking the stage just before midnight, after performances from N.E.R.D., Usher, Jane's Addiction, Chris Cornell, Em got a buildup worthy of stadiums, as a large video screen synced his music to an extended sequence from Activisions's November release, 'Call Of Duty: Black Ops.' On the huge screen the game looked like an animated 'Apocalypse Now' and suitably worked the crowd into a hype that turned into a full frenzy as pyrotechnic flames and explosions shot into the Staples Center air with every gun shot fired on the screen.
Despite his infrequent touring in recent years, Eminem remains one of music's most compelling live figures, delivering his rhymes with an authority and passion that keep all eyes riveted on him. However, one of the half-hour set's high points came when he let his guard down, thanking his fans for "sticking with me all these years while I got my head straight," before dedicating a rambunctious 'Not Afraid.' He wasn't done with the surprises though, imploring Southern California to make some noise for Rihanna.
She joined him onstage for the new album's 'Love the Way You Lie,' a stellar version that ended with them sharing a hug. After thanking the crowd and briefly exiting the stage, the rapper, backed by Travis Barker on drums throughout, made the Staples Center figuratively explode with a ferocious 'Lose Yourself' that then literally exploded at the end with gold confetti streaming from the rafters. It was the kind of performance that makes you hope there are a lot more in his future.
Eminem will take the stage next with Jay-Z, when the two rap stars co-headline concerts at Detroit's Comerica Park on Sept. 2 and New York City's Yankee Stadium on Sept. 13.