CHICAGO – “I couldn”t think of a better motherf*cking place to ‘Relapse,”” Eminem told Lollapalooza attendees after a brief costume change into a thick black hoodie, and invoking the name of his 2009 full-length. “Chicago, can I relapse with you tonight?”
People cheered but then the rapper insisted, “I”m not joking. I”m gonna take a drink for you.” Em”s hype-man Mr. Porter kinda started reeling around his recovering addict and cohort, like, naw man you ain”t gonna do it. Out came a handle of what looked like vodka from the wings. A couple of boos interlaced the noise. Eminem very magnificently put the bottle to his lips, and drank for four seconds.
And that”s when water comically gushed out of a half-dozen holes poked into the sweatshirt.
“I guess I”m not built for that sh*t, am I?” he shrugged, still unsmiling and straight-man as ever. “Now I”m gonna take you back to when I used to get f*cked up.”
And he burst into his old-school medley of crazy-eyed “My Name Is,” “The Real Slim Shady” and almost all of “Without Me.”
Eminem”s recovery – and obviously his most recent album “Recovery” – seemed to be a more prominent theme on this second night at Lollapalooza than it did during his more expansive set at Bonnaroo. The setlist remained similar to that fest”s, as well as his stop-off at Kanrocksas last night. They played sides of ladies vs. guys, rewarding the fairer sex with “Love the Way You Lie.” They gave a little “f*ck you ma” and “f*ck you dad” before launching “Cleanin” Out My Closet.” They ended the night with a one-song encore, “Lose Yourself.”
In between: “How many people in this crowd tonight are f*cked up?” Insanity. “How many people in this crowd… get fucked up to the ‘Recovery” album?” More insanity. “What kind of motherf*cking backward-ass sh*t is that?” Pointing out, “I told you theyre crazy.”
Em”s D12 collegue congratulated his famous friend on his sobriety at one point, for “coming back from the dead.”
“I guess I”m lucky, some of us don”t get a second chance,” Slim Shady said after a lengthy tip of the hat to Nate Dogg, then launching into “Cinderella Man.”
Eminem had the support of many more friends, as special guests abounded. Of course there was Royce da 5″9” for two Bad Meets Evil songs, “Fast Lane” and “Lighters”; but then Bruno Mars actually showed up on the latter to sing the hook, rocking some plaid, a black fedora and a silver guitar which he only occasionally played.
Skylar Grey played her own show at the BMI Stage at Lolla earlier in the day, so it was only natural that she stopped off for “I Need a Doctor,” sans Dr. Dre.
Eminem only seemed winded on “Not Afraid,” but was razor-sharp on “Forever,” originally his collab with Drake and Lil Wayne. He tamed it with slow-jammer “Space Bound” after the lightning round. “Kill You” always has that extra gusto with a gunshot, and “Stan” had that quiet psychosis as it was played nearly in full. Recovery seems to be going well.
Eminem has no other U.S. shows planned, and has four dates overseas for August.