Travis returns nine months after Astroworld
Luke Ballance
14:50 8th August 2022

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Quite literally descending on London’s O2 Arena for his second of two comeback shows in the capital, Houston rapper Travis Scott stands atop a disc-like platform, suspended tens of feet above the stage and flanked by towering artificial rock formations.

While he’s not strictly the “Highest in the Room” – that title is reserved for Priority customers – it’s the perfect setting for a solo rendition of the ROSALÍA-assisted tune, which he bursts into shortly after introducing himself with the brooding “Hold That Heat”.

“It feels so good to be back on stage, man,” are the first non-musical utterances from the Texan performer, whose voice falters slightly as he alludes to the devastating human crush last November that claimed the lives of ten fans and prompted him to take nine months off from performing. For a moment, the atmosphere is  poignant, but Travis doesn’t dwell on the subject, his tone shifting mid-sentence as he asks fans: “Always remember to love each other, take care of each other, and have a good motherfucking time, baby!” From there on out, he’s laser-focused on the task at hand: powering through nearly thirty songs, ranging from the Days Before Rodeo throwback “Mamacita” to the forthcoming numbers “God’s Country” and “Lost Forever”.

The production value on show is unparalleled, with trigger-happy pyrotechnics and indoor fireworks fuelling the adrenaline rush of anthems like “SICKO MODE” and “goosebumps”, but some of the best thrills come when they’re least expected. Back on terra firma, Travis races to the front row mid-song, sharing the mic with a clued-up fan who he’s spotted flawlessly reciting the lyrics to “MAFIA”. She holds it down commendably, leaning into the autotune effect almost as comfortably as the man himself. The biggest surprise of the night, however, comes in the form of a guest appearance from afrobeats sensation Davido; while he couldn’t be further from the Cactus Jack sound, the Nigerian singer’s influence has permeated the discographies of peers like Quavo and Pop Smoke, so it makes sense that he’s on Travis’s radar. Moreover, he has plenty of fans here, and his smash hit “If” sounds every bit as fresh tonight as it did when it first dropped.

With an expansive setlist that spans almost a decade’s worth of music, it’s hard not to marvel at the heights Travis has reached as an artist in that time. Having followed his journey since he was a young protégé on Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label and a producer on Yeezus, it’s moving to see him stand here as a full-fledged superstar in his own right, with each album evoking an abundance of fond personal memories. One thing that strikes me about the audience is the presence of so many young kids, many of them likely to have been introduced to his music via his Fortnite collaboration in 2020 and now fully converted fans. Another is the immense popularity of his merchandise, which has loyal devotees queueing for hours to snag the latest addition to their wardrobe. One thing’s for certain: despite the devastating context of his hiatus, his music still means so much to so many. It’s good to have him back.

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