Donald Glover a.k.a Childish Gambino brought soul and fury to Scotiabank Arena.
“Hey Toronto. This is a church.” declared the actor-rapper-singer at one point during the evening, “If you ain’t here to move, then get the hell out!” Move they did. Rumoured as the “last Gambino tour ever,” attendees of the sold-out show were urged put to away their smartphones and let the performance take over. Their request paid off. Transcending the definition of a concert, it became an experience. As the enigmatic star entered the stage, he and his band moved seamlessly between the epic, the reflective and the funk.
Wielding a set list of assorted gems, the off-the-wall, mutant groove of Boogieman stood above the bunch. Propelled by Glover’s unconventional, contorted physicality, each one of his dance moves brilliantly coincided with the house band’s propulsive beat, helping set the bar for Childish Gambino’s distinctive onstage persona. Elsewhere, elastic facial expressions and bold choreography exploded its way onto the night’s performance of This Is America. Already a viral sensation, the polemic song proved to be a powerful statement live, too. With its thumping, trap-tipped rhythm, the entire venue soon joined in, singing and emoting as one.
By the time his captivating four-song encore hit, the entire stage show of multi-coloured smoke and lasers had felt akin to Pink Floyd meets Kanye West meets Marvin Gaye. Ending on a high, the chilling falsetto screams of Redbone brought Glover to his knees. Dripping in sweat, he begged the audience, “I wanna hear the crowd! Give it to me now!” before the lights went dark and the show abruptly concluded.
Electrifying to say the least, Childish Gambino’s lone stop in Toronto reinforced the sentiment of his growing legend. With or without his purported retirement.
Photos by Greg Noire