In 2000, there was no bigger rap star in the world than Eminem. The white boy from Detroit had stormed popular music culture the year prior with The Slim Shady LP and the gleefully profane lead single ‘My Name Is’, but by the time he released his follow up The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem was a legitimate phenomenon.
Record sales are all well and good, but even then, without the acceleration of downloads, the real money was in a globe-trotting tour. It would mean Eminem needed to get out on the road and in a big way. He did so with screams, thrills and enough newspaper column inches to make The Beatles blush.
As such, Eminem assembled some of the hottest up and coming acts in rap and rock, including 50 Cent, Lil Jon, and Papa Roach, to embark on the ‘Anger Management Tour’. Initially, Limp Bizkit were included on the bill as well, but by the time the tour made its second pass around the world in 2002, Fred Durst and his gang of hoodlum nu-metal makers were on the outs.
During the tour’s first stop in England at the Manchester Arena, Eminem brought the shock value that had only existed in his lyrics and videos to life on stage. Donning a Jason Voorhees-esque hockey mask, the rapper brought out a chainsaw and captured the horror-filled imagery of his songs. It was as if Alice Cooper had turned his attention to hip hop.
As an archived review from The Guardian explained, “Sixteen thousand fans gave the thumbs up to a show rooted in cinematic horror. Eminem – as Slim – recreates the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (in accordance with officialdom, the saw is not plugged in) and appears in an electric chair. Much of the rest is a very standard rap show. The contentious lyrics are often inaudible.”
“On record, Eminem comes across as a genuinely anti-social nihilist, but live is a good old-fashioned crowd-pleaser. Of course, few escape his cartoon rage – from his mum to the thousands of ‘bitches’ in the audience who cheer his homicidal threats.”
The review ends with the line “Eminem is playing some dangerous games, but the bottom line is showbiz.” It would be a narrative that Em would play on for most of his career. Shocking audiences was as key to Slim’s rise as anything else.
Ultimately, that’s all that the rapper really cared about: bringing an intense stage show to the people. If that meant wielding chainsaws, rapping about murder, or even degrading his own family on stage, than so be it.
Check out the audio for the concert down below.