The Greatest Show on Earth May 2, 2008Posted by rugwu in Concert, Hip-hop, Photo.
Tags: Glow in the Dark, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, N.E.R.D., Rihanna
[photos c/o Kanye West]
By Natalia Ciolko
The stadium lights drop into pitch darkness. A blood-curdling shriek from the masses responds. A screen of stars whizzes past on a giant screen as Kanye’s voice rises over the heavy beating of drums, which were as tall as a grown man. The Earth has lost all creativity, and he has accepted the mission to save it. This is his last mission before he heads home.
Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark tour, featuring Rihanna, N.E.R.D. and Lupe Fiasco, descended upon the Frank Erwin Center Wednesday night. Tickets were preciously priced, but thousands of students and teenage Lupe-lovers saved up weeks of allowance to attend.
Lupe Fiasco, the first act, was mid-song at 7:02 p.m. when people were still walking around and buying hot dogs. His set was far too short, and anyone who’d seen him before would have been disappointed to see his portion end so quickly. His F & F crew – Bishop G, Matthew Santos and Nikki Jean – were all present (except for Gemini), but their presence wasn’t fully felt due to the crowd’s poor attendance so early in the evening. For those who were there, “Little Weapon” and “Daydream” were highlights of the set.
N.E.R.D. came on with several hype men ringing the sides of the two drum kits. Pharrell Williams, looking every bit the skater with his skinny black pants and dangling chain of carabiners, was almost acrobatic on stage, alternating between a ’77 skank dance and Mick Jagger-esque stage jumps.
“Let’s see how many underground fans we have,” Williams called out before the band launched into “Everybody Nose,” as he stunted Heisman-style, before laying the song’s chorus over the beat to the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”
Rihanna took the cake for best choreography. Her dangerously high, electric heels prevented her from doing too much dancing herself, but she did get down for “Umbrella,” to the delight of her many fans in attendance.
“When I was watching N.E.R.D. I wanted to be a rapper, then I changed my mind during Rihanna,” said Farrah Momayezi, a KVUE employee in attendance. “I want to be her backup dancer!”
The final act, of course, was Mr. West. His set was a mountainous terrain that surrounded an illuminated dance floor, which slanted up toward a set of massive screens. The show began with the opening bars of “Stronger” before transitioning into an intense delivery of “I Wonder.” Drums and scratching turntables came in for an extended mix as he asked the audience “Do you know?” again and again. As the song ended, the cameras focused in on Kanye’s face as he turned toward the screen and addressed his spaceship.
“Jane, where are we?” he demanded. “Unknown.”
Floating through unknown space, Kanye powered through “I Heard ‘Em Say,” “Champion” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” With each song, the landscape traveled to another galaxy, from Martian red rocks to purple waterfalls to random abstractions of light. On a frightening rendition of “Get ‘Em High,” Kanye used a demonic voice changer as red and blue plumes of fire burst upwards from the sides of the stage. Consolidating his reputation as one of the music industry’s hardest workers, Kanye was constantly active, running up the sides of the stage and straight krumping through “Flashing Lights.”
During “It All Falls Down,” his spaceship failed him, leaving Kanye’s return home in dire straits until he could find enough ‘star power’ to relaunch. In response, a larger than life, naked anime-style doll with blue hair and glowing eyes floated down from the ceiling (Must be a Murakami). Kanye locked into intense eye contact with the her as her robotic voice declared, “You’re the biggest star in the universe.”
[‘Ye’s space man outfit]
Even in these boastful moments of Kanye’s show, there still seemed to be undertones of insecurity. In another instance, Kanye’s spaceship reminded him, “This isn’t the first time you’ve crashed.” As one astute fan pointed out, “It’s obviously self-conscious if you’re having a doll tell you you’re important.”
Kanye’s intergalactic sexual frustration led to a flickering, hologram nude gyrating behind ‘Ye as he performed “Gold Digger” in one of the most fun parts of the concert. For a moment, he came down off of his pedestal and seemed just like a man. On this slightly goofy record, Kanye is Yeezy, and we were all partying with him. Following that, “Good Life” was transformed by the fantastic orchestra working under the stage into a work of operatic aplomb, bringing Kanye literally to his knees.
The tone went from bombastic to sincere as Kanye performed “Hey Mama” as the entire audience sang along, followed by an electrified “Jesus Walks” that practically burned with righteous indignation. After this, Kanye took his first and only break of the night, seated on some celestial stoop while sipping from a high-design canteen. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin” played in the background as the sun rose behind the man and legend. He returned to “Stronger,” bringing the show full circle and to an outstanding close. This tour will set the bar incredibly high for Kanye’s successive performances, but he’s up to the challenge.
[Kanye’s kitchen table sketch of his eventual Glow in the Dark stage.]