Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gig Review: Kanye West at the O2

"Any critic who has the audacity to subtract even half a star off this show will be smacked in the fucking face," opined Kanye West as his two-hour set at the O2 drew to a close. He then defied anyone in the audience to name another concert that even approached the untrammelled genius of his stage spectacular.

Well, since he asked:
1) Prince - Lovesexy
2) Madonna - Reinvention tour
3) U2 - Zooropa
4) Jay-Z at Glastonbury
5) Sly and the Family Stone at Woodstock
6) Etc, etc

So what went wrong for Kanye?

First of all, despite hiring what he boasted of as "the best lighting designers in the world", there were no spotlights to follow the on-stage action - the result being that Kanye spent most of the night shrouded in silhouette. Even on the video screens. The tour was called Glow In The Dark, not Alone In The Dark. Strike one.

West also described how hard he worked to give the concert a narrative with "artistic merit". The plot, however, was a sub-Ed Wood space fantasy about Kanye being stranded on an alien planet with only a randy computer called Jane (!)for company. Strike two.

Lastly, the evening contained the most baffling, disorientating 15 minutes I've ever witnessed in a live show, as Kanye embarked on a semi-improvised, semi-musical, semi-coherent lament to his late mother.

Over a sparse bass figure, he shouted down God for robbing him of his soulmate, while making detours to discuss the paparazzi, the costs of fame, stage fright, his fractured relationship with Jay-Z, bloggers, the economic dowturn, Barack Obama, trying to sell his house in LA, the possibility of space travel and, frighteningly, the fact that he had recently been "a week away" from comitting suicide. All while staring sullenly at his shoes. It was by turns touching, upsetting and terrifyingly bonkers.

Strike three? Well, not quite...

Having got all tha bile off his chest, West's spirits seemed to pick up and he attacked the show's hit-heavy final segment with frantic brio. Hearing the likes of All Fall Down, Through The Wire, Gold Digger and Stronger performed back to back with such gusto makes you realise what a prolific and accomplished songwriter Kanye is. His earlier assertion that music was the only way to drown out his demons added an extra layer of emotional resonance to the final half hour of the show.

So, while it wasn't the earth-shattering, boundary-breaking audio-visual feast Kamye believed it to be, Glow In The Dark was still a remarkable, memorable and monumentally conceited pop concert.

Verdict: (And I am ready for my beating now).

Best bits: The extended singalong on Can't Tell Me Nothing; Estelle's surprise appearance for an encore of American Boy.

Worst bit: Four 'aliens' (lampshades) telling Kanye: "You're the most famous person in the universe."

Labels: , ,

<< Home

Newer Posts ::: Older Posts

© 2014 Discopop Directory | Contact | Go to the homepage