I was excited and even had on my "Buy Any Jeans Necessary" t-shirt!
I've bigged him up enough before but Kanye West is rapidly turning into Prince....but Prince: the dodgy period after Sign O' The Times. Somebody needs to rein him in.
Don't get me wrong, this show was an incredible display of lighting, pyrotechnics, space-age graphics, stage design etc. but he is sacrificing some of the core elements of his art (the tunes, the MCing) for what is essentially his first real Spinal Tap moment. These things very quickly become parody. The dangers of having "concept" tours.
This Glow-In-The-Dark tour is the first hip-hopera. It was The Who's Tommy meets Star Wars, Star-Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Total Recall, Barbarella and a bit of Red Dwarf. The accent was on 70s sci-fi anyway. His outfit was Mad-Max.
The show and all the glitter and special effects were excellent til midway. It was a visual overload, the tracks were performed majestically and the sound was crystal-clear. The pop-art imaging-design was special. He was in the right spot on stage to have his face half shaded-out on the giant screens, then over to another spot where all you could see was his silhouette and the dry-ice as he moved to the beat. Nothing new though to the Stones, U2, Madonna and all other super-league acts (where he sees himself now). He nicked bits from so many things.
More imagery at the end of his song "Stronger" where the metaphor for the title is linked to his black-gloved, single-clenched-fist salute. A fervent supporter of Obama, he's the son of a former Black Panther. This is probably lost on much of the audience (more on that later).
In his "concept" he is on a spaceship with a female computer called Jane with whom he interacts for help and guidance.
"Jane, where am I?"
"You're lost Kanye".
"Jane, what should I do?"
"You're the brightest star in the Universe, Kanye, you gotta glow in the dark."
Up to this point the whole thing is really top notch. Midway through though and his ship lands on a planet with what can only be described as the swamp-thing from Star Wars waving its tail about in the dry-ice. That's bad enough but then the mechanical dragon/monster thing with tongue and lit-up eyes comes rolling out stage right.......Jeez!! Me and my homies all burst out laughing at this - I'll now revert to Scots-homie chat...
"Is he taking the cunt?"
"What the fuck is that meant to be - Nessie?"
"He's lost the plizot"
"That is miggidy mingin'"
You get the idea.
But it has to be said - at this point he performs a track called "Can't Tell Me Nuthin'" so I wondered if he was playing deliberate tricks with the lame-ass stage props.
It's criminal coz until now his show rocked. What is even more criminal though is that he persists with some other odd shenanigans and starts to neglect the immediacy of his classic tunes. Songs are now being dragged out way longer than they should be with all sorts of over-dramatic bullshit at the end of them.
On top of that he seems to be splitting his catalogue up thus: A soppy one for the Kanye West-Hollywood High School Musical brigade followed by one for the Kanye West-Pilton thugs.
Tupac's advice to Biggie was always: "Bring out your radio-friendly stuff as singles and hit 'em both barrels on the Parental Advisory Lyrics-laden album". This leaned too heavily on radio-friendly.
It starts to dawn on me that this artist - the same age as me, who has achieved critical and commercial success non-stop, an artist I wasn't "in to" at first (his tunes weren't "conventional hip-hop") even though the late great Madchester-man Anthony H Wilson predicted that he'd be the biggest star on the planet someday - is appealing to a much larger demographic than when I first laid an ear. The kids all around me could be half my age; some look gothic; some ned-like; some look emo. All young though. Not the demographic that watched him with me last year when he dropped some Verve and the like into his setlist. This really strikes home on the way out of the arena when I'm greeted by a sea of grumpy looking Mums and Dads in the foyer waiting on their bairns to come out. What the fuck happened in a year?
As for the Prince analogy at the beginning of this review, well, I reckon he fancies himself as the new Prince if the 2 new tracks I've heard off his forthcoming album are anything to go by. But Prince he ain't. Both tracks suck, bigtime. He needs to dump the bloody singing and the Cher vocoder thing, get two turntables, a mixing desk and a mic and start doing what he does best again.
And so........ to the end of a gig of two halves. His Touch the Sky track got stretched out way too long as his spaceship, with him on board, moved skywards and disappeared up into the Gods. Round about the same time Kanye disappeared up into his own backside.
Still an interesting superstar though.
(Santogold sounded decent in support from what I could hear but I didn't see her. I was in the bar area where they were knocking back youngsters with nae ID.)
Edit: Unlike The Scotsman review where Kanye garnered 5 outta 5 stars, I'll give him 3.
KW's take on his Newcastle arrest for pap-bashing.
- Casio EX-Z8