Nicki Minaj in Manila

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The one-night-only concert of pop sensation Nicki Minaj in the Philippines last July 11 may have been held on a Wednesday, but it sure felt like it was Friday. After all, it was part of her Pink Friday Tour, and SM Mall of Asia Arena was packed, despite it being the middle of the work week. In attendance were some of the country’s hottest and busiest celebrities: Richard and Raymond Gutierrez, Sarah Lahbati, Daiana Menezes, Frank Magalona, Phoemela Baranda, TJ Manotoc, Rovilson Fernandez, Bianca Valerio, Bubbles Paraiso, Robi Domingo, Chino Lui-Pio, Mikey Bustos, and Ashley Rivera (aka Petra Mahalimuyak).

We all know why a lot of people were ready to brave the traffic to watch the show: they wanted to see Nicki Minaj perform her monster hit “Super Bass” (and sing along, too, of course). It’s easy to assume that for most of the people attending, “Super Bass” is the only Nicki Minaj song they know.

But this wasn’t true.

Early on in the show, when Nicki first appeared wearing a robe, it became  clear that a lot of people in attendance knew Nicki’s stuff. Sure, she might have started with current and recent hits like “Beez in the Trap” and “Starships,” but even after those songs, people were still singing along to lesser known tracks from her latest album.

Nicki soon shed her robe, revealing an ’80s-inspired ensemble made up of a neon yellow cropped jacket and a pair of neon pink shorts.

The stage design was nothing extraordinary; images were just projected on the walls for visual effect. Nicki’s get-ups were pretty tame, unlike her usually flamboyant outfits. Between the songs, during Nicki’s wardrobe changes, a DJ just played some songs.

But several things made up for all these supposed shortcomings. For starters, Nicki’s backup dancers were great performers. There were also some scream-inducing gimmicks, such as Nicki throwing away some souvenirs (they looked like rolled-up shirts), and Nicki asking members of the audience to go onstage and dance with her.

The singer/rapper was very good with words. Before performing “Fire Burns,” she asked the audience, “Have you ever had your heart broken? I had my heart broken once and I wanted to kill him. He deserved it.”

And oh, there was a lot of butt-shaking, too. Nicki Minaj, after all, is very blessed in the derriere department.

Quite expectedly, “Super Bass” was her last song, which she performed after teasingly telling the audience “Is there something I forgot to perform?”

Quite expectedly, too, there was no encore after “Super Bass.” However, she did come out again, wrapped in a robe this time, just to bow in appreciation of her audience.

Nicki Minaj’s first-ever concert in the Philippines, which was made possible by Globe Postpaid and BlackBerry, was short and sweet, lasting around just one and a half hours. It might have had its little faults, but nobody seemed to mind. Everyone was too busy having so much fun.

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