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Concert Reviews:
Chance the Rapper reigns triumphant at The Palace

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Friday, May 19, 2017

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AUBURN HILLS -- "I know we're in the burbs right now," Chance the Rapper told the crowd at the Palace during his concert there Thursday night, May 18. "But I know how to play a Detroit show."

And the Chicago MC left no doubt about that during a triumphant, if occasionally disjoint 80-minute concert before about 12,600 of his, apparently, biggest fans.

Chancellor Bennett's current Be-Encouraged Tour is something of a coming out for the rapper. It follows his three Grammy Award wins earlier this year -- including Best Rap Album for 2016's "Coloring Book" -- which vaulted the 24-year-old from underground hip to mainstream hit. It's a victory for his defiantly independent way of doing things, eschewing numerous major label offers, and comes alongside the good works he's doing for public schools back in his hometown.

All of that -- plus collaborations such as being part of DJ Khaled's chart-topping all-star single "I'm The One" -- has magnified Chance's stature to a level even he seems to be grappling with. "I'm not used to this arena (stuff)," he said at the Palace, noting his previous metro area appearances at the Shelter, the Fillmore Detroit and the Fox Theatre. But on Thursday he did it well; His show wasn't quite the high-concept spectacle of recent productions from Drake and Kanye West, but a large curved video screen at rear stage, an overhead bridge that took him out to the rear of the Palace during "Same Drugs" and plenty of pyrotechnics, confetti and streamers insured that Chance's show was appropriately arena-sized.

And the music played well to the space, too. Riding onstage on a small motocross cycle, Chance and his Social Experiment band -- a trio plus four vocalist -- got things off to a banging start with "Mixtape." Variety was the hallmark of the night, from the spiritual flavors of "Blessings 1" and "All We Got" to the pulsing energy of "No Problem" and "Angels," the throwback at soul of "Pusha Man" and "Juke Jam" and the lighthearted pop-party whimsy of "Cocoa Butter Kisses" and "Sunday Candy." Plenty of individual songs stood out, including the pulsing anthems "Juke Jam" and "Finish Line" and the buoyant "Summer Friends."

And the video for "I'm The One" screened while Chance and company played it, giving the rest of its cast (Khaled, Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne and more) a little eye time in front of the Palace crowd.

The 21-song set -- which started an unconscionably 80 minutes after opener King Louie -- wasn't always smooth, but it seldom lost momentum. At times Chance seemed genuinely overwhelmed at the size and scope of his success, but he kept his many expressions of gratitude brief and to the point and let his music do the bulk of the talking.

He also promised that he'll see us again next year, and it's safe to say many of those at the Palace on Thursday have begun counting the days.

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