In Chicago Saturday, 20,000 devoted supporters packed a stadium to hear a man who has sparked controversy — an outsider who came in and disrupted the status quo when everyone else in his field who came was the same.
They heard a man that is easily provoked into controversial, sporadic Twitter outbursts, and is one that paraded wealth while managing to lose unimaginable sums of money.
He is a man who has said and done many questionable things but maintains a fervent, almost rapid, following. They came to hear Kanye.
Everyone waited, dressed in the distinct garb that has become synonymous with his cult of personality. All of a sudden there was darkness and then a voice overhead: “If young metro don’t trust you, I’m gone shoot you.”
Kanye West reaffirmed his icon status with the rollout of his Saint Pablo Tour. No other artist in recent years has pushed the envelope on as many occasions. With its elevated, moving stage The Saint Pablo Tour was a novel way to interact with a crowd that is both intimate and grand in scale.
Kanye wildly jumped around on stage, shaking it as he moved around the arena. The stage raised and lowered, at times just a few feet overhead the crowd, needing a crew of security guards to stay underneath the stage to prevent fans from climbing on the platform.
Kanye’s set was so innovative partly because he found a way to give every single person in General Admission a front row seat. Kanye’s moving stage forced the crowd to move in random directions all of the time. It gave every person a chance to look up and see Yeezus himself, just feet away, and swear that he was looking down directly at them.
The normal taboo against moving through the crowd at a concert was completely removed as the concertgoers flowed like liquid instead of being compressed in a single direction towards a fixed stage. Tall people were not a problem for once.
Several massive arrangements of lights above the floor moved throughout the show, turning on and off and changing colors slowly in unison to set the mood. Fog raised from the floor as the colored lights filling the arena changed from greyscale, to yellow, to reds as “Wolves” vibrated the floor. By Kanye standards the setup was very minimalist.
The entire night was completely about Kanye West. There was no opener. At most shows the crowd yearns for guest performers to rush on stage during their parts of collaboration tracks, but it would have been completely out of place here. Frank Ocean was in the building, and even huge fans of his wouldn’t have complained about him not performing. It was Ye’s night.
The set list was filled with mostly upbeat tracks, heavily featuring tracks from The Life of Pablo. He played the beginning of “Famous” four times, emphasizing 2016’s most controversial diss — perhaps of all time. But it was not a one dimensional show. Tracks like “Wolves” paired with atmospheric lighting and fog sent shivers down spines.
Kanye West’s ‘The Life of Pablo’ is reminiscent of previous album themes with intricate gospel blendEditor’s note: This is a review of the version of The Life Of Pablo that was released on the Tidal streaming service Feb. Read…
West performed “Only One,” “Heartless” and “Runaway” during a subdued and emotional stretch of the set, before giving an extended speech about community, dreams and the future.
Lest you think he’s gone soft and humble, he jumped right into a loud and raucous recitation of “I love Kanye” before blessing us with “Jesus Walks,” paired with flashing light displays.
Before anyone knew it, the stage glided towards the exit tunnel during a spiritual rendition of “Ultralight Beam.” Ye waved to the crowd without a word and was enveloped in a cloud of fog, somewhere in heaven. It was a God dream.