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Review: Nicki Minaj

Rod Laver Arena
December 5

Straddling the scary/sexy gap and selling millions of albums in the process is no mean feat for today's modern female performer, but in the Nicki Minaj galaxy it's all part of the job.

Emerge from a pink neon rocket ship? No problem. Alternate a snarl with a smile? Too easy. Slide down - and then grind - a stripper's pole? Naturally.

The petite, but by no means demure, Minaj was last night intent on showing off not just her wig collection and ample derriere but also her vocal versatility, tearing through the kind of rap that best links her to Lil Wayne's macho YMCMB crew before turning torch song diva and, by the end, club queen.

She smiled delightedly as the crowd sang to the particularly profane Come on a Cone, then followed up quickly with Roman Reloaded, Beez in the Trap and the devastating disses of Did it on 'Em before stopping to catch her breath and say hello. There were nods to her Young Money stablemates Drake and Lil Wayne as well as a cameo from her touring partner Tyga who earlier in the night distinguished himself with not one but two performances of his hit Rack City, during which he took the opportunity to fill the stage with some young ladies and, awkwardly, kids. What might they have made of his arse-focused song Lapdance, one wonders?

But the night well and truly belonged to the young and to the female (as well as one lucky audience member named Jack, from the Mornington Peninsula), whose high pitch buzz rose ever higher when Minaj asked for the under 18s in the stadium to yell and be heard.

She implored this screaming mass to go to school, be smart and "don't give your cookies away to every Tom, Dick and Harry". That she followed this message of self respect up with 2 Chainz's I Luv Dem Strippers only seemed to enliven the already adoring crowd.

By her fifth and final costume change, Minaj's cross-over appeal was clear. The rapper/singer and now American Idol judge had given equal effort to the emotional Marilyn Monroe as she did to her mega-hit Super Bass and anthemic finale, Starships, never dropping her love-her or hate-her theatricality for a moment.

Tweens, teens and thirtysomethings cheered for her equally. Mums and b-boys danced. By the end, dressed like a Manga band leader in silver cap and white tutu, she'd managed to lead the crowd, as her lyrics promised, "higher than a motherf---er".