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Drake wows by sticking to the script

Drake performed at Comcast Center in Mansfield. His second album, released in November, became one of the biggest of 2011. (Matthew J. Lee / Globe staff) Drake performed at Comcast Center in Mansfield. His second album, released in November, became one of the biggest of 2011.
By Franklin Soults
Globe Correspondent / June 18, 2012
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MANSFIELD — About half an hour into Drake’s outdoor performance before nearly 20,000 fans at the Comcast Center on Sunday, as he worked his way through the wonderful track “Marvins Room,” the rap superstar lifted his sleeveless white T-shirt to wipe his face, and the crowd erupted into delirious shrieks.

It was one of the few unchoreographed highlights in the 25-year-old hip-hop star’s masterful 90-minute performance, and it proved, as Drake admitted at show’s end, that he essentially “makes music for women.”

The crowd reflected as much, if not by sight, than unmistakably by sound, singing back the rapper’s words in full choruses and through the tricky pitter-patter choruses alike, demonstrating mastery of both obscure early mix tape numbers and chart-toppers like show opener “Lord Knows” and set closer “Headlines,” both taken from Drake’s latest album, “Take Care.”

Released on Nov. 15, Aubrey Drake Graham’s second official album became one of the biggest discs of 2011, showing an ability to hone a smooth middle path in his work, seeming to please all camps at once.

If anything, Drake’s reported dust-up with singer Chris Brown at a New York nightclub last week seemed an exception that proves how well he otherwise negotiates the tense and changeable world of hip-hop superstardom.

Of course, as Drake is the first to admit, it’s a world to which 99 percent of his fans have no access.

The show at once seemed to emphasize that distance, with banks of huge televisions that projected images of the superstar in dramatic shading.

But it also sought to close it as much as any giant outdoor show can.

An extended stretch toward show’s end turned the screens on the crowd as Drake called out to individual fans (“I see you, baby girl, with your hands in your pockets”).

The smiles radiating back on the screens were another unchoreographed highlight.

Franklin Soults can be reached at fsoults@gmail.com.

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MUSIC Review

DRAKE

At: Comcast Center, last night