Kanye West at Toyota Center, 12/7/2013
Kanye West built a mountain. He may not have built it with his own two hands, but he was able to pull together the resources that took the mountain out of his imagination and into arenas across the country. The mountain is one of many memorable visuals of
The Yeezus Tour, but it seems to be the one he's most proud of.
As a piece of art, The Yeezus tour is incredible. The story may not be the deepest in the world, but there are moments of production that are completely jaw-dropping. If Kanye was setting out to create the ultimate calling card to the world of entertainment, he succeeded.
But it doesn't make for a great concert.
Maybe it was the fact that he was adjusting his in-ear monitors every other minute. Maybe the masks he wears affects this breathing. Maybe he's just tired for the toil that comes with hitting the road on his first solo tour in five years. Whatever the reason, there were many moments Saturday night where Kanye just didn't seem to be running at full speed.
There's always going to be a bit of call and response, especially at a rap show. That kind of thing is expected. However, it's one thing to kill the beat so the crowd can sing a particularly great hook, it's another thing entirely to expect them to sing damn near the entire first verse of "Blood On the Leaves" without any help. It's almost as if Kanye feels the visuals are so powerful in the front half of the show that he can do things like that.
Things were further hampered by the fact that he played every single song off Yeezus, and very few of those tracks have any weight live. That minimalism that so many critics like to talk about does not yield itself to big arenas.
That's not to say that he never came alive. "Runaway" remains a standout in any Kanye performance, both on the strength of the song and the fact that everyone knows he's going to speak his mind before the piano melody disappears. Then once he removed his mask -- which required a visit from White Jesus to make happen (swear to Yeezus that's how it went down) -- it became a more traditional Kanye West performance, with the hits folks know and love. Free from the restraints of creating art, West reminded everyone that he does in fact remember how to rock a crowd.
Review continues on the next page.