REVIEW – Nicki Minaj, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

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POUND the alarm – Nicki Minaj is on fire. Not literally but certainly figuratively, as the bootylicious rapper put in an electric performance for her first solo gig in Newcastle.

The pint-sized poppet with the potty mouth has long been a fixture on my playlist and I was, admittedly, excited to see what she would deliver in the flesh.

So too it seems were the sold out crowd on her opening night of two dates in the Toon, who gave out piercing screams as their heroine emerged on stage in a pink spaceship.

Thanks to her eccentricities, Miss Minaj seems to have accrued an almost maniacal fan base who were out in force for her Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded tour, resplendent in painfully short shorts and a rainbow of various coloured wigs. Though I was a little surprised at the amount of children at the gig - these lyrics are not for young ears.

With all the madcap bouffants, crazy clothing and cartoon-esque faces, it’s easy to forget that Nicki actually has a cracking voice.

But it shone as she worked her way through a catalogue of infectiously good hits to the backdrop of a slick and expensive-looking set.

So much so, that she didn’t indulge in as much booty-shaking as I would have expected. Instead, she seemed to concentrate on the vocals for high-octane tracks such as Beez in the Trap, Super Bass and new single Va Va Voom while her lithe dancers put in super-flexible performances around her.

Though it’s the fast-paced toe-tappers which have earned Nicki her name in the music industry, her more pared down tracks are some of my favourite on her albums.

Right Thru Me, Fire Burns and Save Me and their emotionally-strewn lyrics, which she performed in a floor-skimming pink coat and candy floss pink wig, were highlights of the night and proved that she is an artist with both substance and style.

Katy Wheeler