15 Thoughts On Kanye West’s Defiant (And Nuts) Madison Square Garden Yeezus Show
November 25, 2013 - 7:03 pm
6. Throughout the two-hour plus show West wears a series of blinged-out masks. Could it be some protest against the prying, shameless culture of tabloid media? Is it a middle finger to the unforgiving spotlight he and fiancé Kim K continues to endure? Or is West simply riding a theatrical wave? Let’s just go with all of the above.
7. The word FIGHTING flashes across a huge circular 60-foot white screen as a series of synonyms unleashes West’s conceptual statement (FALLING and SEARCHING are some of the other tags that are given the same cinematic treatment). Oh yeah, there are 12 statuesque female disciples wearing stocking mask over their heads. Yeezus’ “Send It Up” blares from the speakers. When ‘Ye rhymes, “It's so packed I might ride around on my bodyguard's back like Prince in the club,” it takes on a new added dimension with such surreal surroundings. The rabid crowd eats it up. Minutes later, those same clandestine beauties are lined up on the mountain as if they are readying for some religious sacrifice. Fun times.
8. “Mercy” cuts into the Yeezus playlist. While it indeed gets a rise out of the faithful, it lands a little flat given that Pusha T, 2 Chainz and crew are not there to back up Mr. West.
9. Hey, when you have a huge fucking mountain onstage you may as well use it. This time around, Kanye is on top of the structure delivering an epic performance of “Power,” which more than exemplifies the stage show’s dark, futuristic atmosphere.
10. While there were no midget size Stonehenge replicas descending from the heavens, Kanye did have his share of This Is Spinal Tap moments. There’s Kanye rapping dangerously on an elevated tip over the audience that is pure drama within itself. There’s a full Catholic Mass complete with swinging thurible burning what looks to be incense as ‘Ye wears a robe like some new age Holy Man. There’s what looks to be a demon with red glowing eyes perched on the mountain during the nihilistic “Hold My Liquor.” And…
11. White Jesus! Which kicks off “Jesus Walks!” After more than an hour, West finally takes off the mask. Oh, the symbol! Yes, much has been written about the tour’s overt spiritual overtones. At one point Kanye is lifted in the air by his 12 apostles in a death march. Indeed, even the fans in attendance resembled a congregation waiting to hear the good word of Yeezus. And his followers are rabid and loyal. It’s not so much an “Everybody say ho!” rap show or the standard “Cleveland, we love you!” rock workout. It’s much more stoic and serious in tone. But when “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” breaks through a euphoric sing-along is ignited. The mojo returns.
12. During one of the shows more memorable emotional moments, West sings the haunting “Coldest Winter,” a track taken from his 2008 work 808s & Heartbreak (which turned five yesterday). He goes into the story of how he wrote the song after hearing about the tragic death of his mother. It’s a rare glimpse of vulnerability for ‘Ye. Another memorable moment? A roof-rousing version of Yeezus’ “Blood On The Leaves” complete with pyrotechnics and a dazzling fire display, which shoots out of the mountain. “Blood” arguably gets the biggest pop of the night. When too much smoke covers the stage, West fires off at his tech people, “There’s too much smoke up there, man...Y’all fucking up their Instagram pic, man!” The audience chuckles. But West is dead serious.
13. A few things you probably didn’t know before attending the Yeezus show: 1) West wrote “Lost In The World” from an actual email he sent to Kim. “The person I hit send to is with me tonight,” West says. “She is my fiancé.” 2) Kanye is a huge admirer of veteran rock star Lenny Kravitz, who, according to West, was also told that his dreams of becoming a fashion giant would never be taken seriously by the powers-that-be. This revelation sparks a 20-plus-minute diatribe on Kanye’s utter disdain for the fashion industry, which he labels racist. “I’ll turn up on these niggas!” he proclaims, explaining why he gets so much criticism for his provocative statements. “Fuck fashion! What’s the worst they can do? Marginalize me again?!!!” 3) People really love “Runaway.” West teases the faithful with the track’s opening note and they eat it up with a roar that is deafening.
14. Some of West’s most acclaimed fan favorites pre- the tabloid frenzy of KIMYE gets some shine. “Through The Wire,” which sounds almost out of place inside Yeezus’ gothic confines, gets a respectful reception. “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” induces the Roc-A-Fella diamond signs. And “Good Life” keeps the party going. It’s funny. Sometimes Kanye’s powerful sensitive jerk persona overshadows what is undoubtedly one of music’s most rich and varied catalogues. Let’s have a toast for the asshole.
15. The Yeezus Tour is for the real ride-or-die Kanye West fan. It’s innovative, brazen, laughable, groundbreaking, and it times infuriating. During his frequent protests, you could see some ticket buyers streaming out of the Garden wearing a “Why can’t Kanye just rap and shut up?” look on their faces. But when you ride shotgun with West that’s part of the deal. The man is not here to win any popularity contests. He’s an artist naked to the world, warts and all. How refreshing is that?