Kanye West's 'Glow in the Dark' tour opens in Seattle

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Kanye West has tried to keep the design and theme of his new tour shrouded in secrecy, but the cat’s out of the bag now that the nationwide trek opened at Seattle’s KeyArena on Wednesday night. EW.com was on hand for the premiere of the “Glow in the Dark” tour — which also features Rihanna, N.E.R.D., and Lupe Fiasco as opening acts — and can offer a preview of what audiences across the country have in store over the next few months.

It’s as “big” a production as you might have expected from all the anticipation West has been building up, but maybe the biggest conceit is how minimalist it really is, in that West spends his entire 83-minute performance alone on stage. Indulging in metaphorical dialogues with a computerized voice and rapping and dancing in front of a giant LED screen full of star fields and spacey desert landscapes, West is attempting to pull off the hip-hop equivalent of a Broadway one-man show.

More details and — WARNING — spoilers, after the jump.

addCredit(“Walik Goshorn / Retna”)

As stated earlier, no other humans share the stage with West. You might
even think he’s rapping to tracks, though you’ll eventually notice that
there is a live pit band, a la Broadway, playing in the dark below the
lip of the stage. At the beginning of his 83-minute set, West explained
that he was lost in space, marooned while on a mission to search for
creativity in the universe. “My only companion is my spaceship, Jane,
and this is our last mission,” he said. Yes, his off-screen computerized
foil has a name: Jane. “Our system has encountered a meteor shower,”
Jane soon tells him. The damage is severe and West collapses. “Wake up,
Mr. West!… We have crash landed on an unknown planet.” Soon, his
spaceship is prompting him for some personal flashbacks: “Mr. West,
remember, this is not your first crash.” West does most of his
performing on a platform slanted at about a 30-degree angle in front of
the giant screen, and the only real prop of the evening is an inanimate
female alien that drops in on some wires at one point, looking like a
sex doll with a blue anime wig.

Late in the show, “Jesus Walks” is followed by his ode to his late
mother, wherein, scripted or real, West drops to one knee and appears
genuinely caught up in raw emotion. Then the pit band plays an excerpt
from Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” before Jane admonishes West: “We’ve been on this journey so long — we can’t give up now…. We need the
brightest star in the universe: You, Kanye. We need you. Only you can
bring us home. You can glow in the dark.” At that point, he launches
into a rousing version of “Stronger,” the equivalent of what they call “an 11 o’clock number” on Broadway. (It was literally well after 11 p.m.,
though, since West didn’t take the stage until 10:20.) After one last
number, in one of his very few direct addresses to the crowd (as
opposed to Jane), West exulted, “You have just experienced the “Glow in
the Dark” tour! Don’t act like I never told ya!”There were no encores,
which may or may not have had anything to do with the fact that he was
already wrapping up 43 minutes past the venue’s curfew, ensuring some
hefty local overtime penalties.

General consensus: West is taking himself awfully seriously with
this show, and the hubris borders on the ludicrous — and yet the whole
thing manages to be fairly galvanizing anyway, thanks to his being
fully committed at every step of the way. (Reviews of this first show
in the Los Angeles Times and Seattle Times were fairly rapturous. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was less impressed, though, headlining its
review: “Kanye was feeling the love — for himself.”) The
audience also adored all three opening acts, each of whom got a
half-hour in front of a white curtain.

The oddest moment may have been when Pharrell from N.E.R.D. came out
on stage during a lengthy set change, about 15 minutes after they’d
finished performing, and issued a public apology for having cursed on
stage, since it had been brought to his attention that there was a
5-year-old in the front row. (A few minutes earlier, the crowd had
cheered as he’d come out from backstage walked down to the front row,
presumably to have a discussion with the offended parent.) It’ll be
interesting to see whether future shows will have Pharrell reviving the
encouragement to women to chant “I want to f— tonight,” and whether
that’ll depend on how many grade-schoolers the N.E.R.D. frontman spies
in section A.

For a review of the tour, check out the next issue of EW, out May 2.

As stated earlier, no other humans share the stage with West. You mighteven think he’s rapping to tracks, though you’ll eventually notice thatthere is a live pit band, a la Broadway, playing in the dark below thelip of the stage. At the beginning of his 83-minute set, West explainedthat he was lost in space, marooned while on a mission to search forcreativity in the universe. "My only companion is my spaceship, Jane,and this is our last mission," he said. Yes, his off-screen computerizedfoil has a name: Jane. "Our system has encountered a meteor shower,"Jane soon tells him. The damage is severe and West collapses. "Wake up,Mr. West!… We have crash landed on an unknown planet." Soon, hisspaceship is prompting him for some personal flashbacks: "Mr. West,remember, this is not your first crash." West does most of hisperforming on a platform slanted at about a 30-degree angle in front ofthe giant screen, and the only real prop of the evening is an inanimatefemale alien that drops in on some wires at one point, looking like asex doll with a blue anime wig.

Late in the show, "Jesus Walks" is followed by his ode to his latemother, wherein, scripted or real, West drops to one knee and appearsgenuinely caught up in raw emotion. Then the pit band plays an excerptfrom Journey’s "Don’t Stop Believin’" before Jane admonishes West: "We’ve been on this journey so long — we can’t give up now…. We need thebrightest star in the universe: You, Kanye. We need you. Only you canbring us home. You can glow in the dark." At that point, he launchesinto a rousing version of "Stronger," the equivalent of what they call "an 11 o’clock number" on Broadway. (It was literally well after 11 p.m.,though, since West didn’t take the stage until 10:20.) After one lastnumber, in one of his very few direct addresses to the crowd (asopposed to Jane), West exulted, "You have just experienced the "Glow inthe Dark" tour! Don’t act like I never told ya!"There were no encores,which may or may not have had anything to do with the fact that he wasalready wrapping up 43 minutes past the venue’s curfew, ensuring somehefty local overtime penalties.

General consensus: West is taking himself awfully seriously withthis show, and the hubris borders on the ludicrous — and yet the wholething manages to be fairly galvanizing anyway, thanks to his beingfully committed at every step of the way. (Reviews of this first showin the Los Angeles Times and Seattle Times were fairly rapturous. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was less impressed, though, headlining itsreview: "Kanye was feeling the love — for himself.") Theaudience also adored all three opening acts, each of whom got ahalf-hour in front of a white curtain.

The oddest moment may have been when Pharrell from N.E.R.D. came outon stage during a lengthy set change, about 15 minutes after they’dfinished performing, and issued a public apology for having cursed onstage, since it had been brought to his attention that there was a5-year-old in the front row. (A few minutes earlier, the crowd hadcheered as he’d come out from backstage walked down to the front row,presumably to have a discussion with the offended parent.) It’ll beinteresting to see whether future shows will have Pharrell reviving theencouragement to women to chant "I want to f— tonight," and whetherthat’ll depend on how many grade-schoolers the N.E.R.D. frontman spiesin section A.

For a review of the tour, check out the next issue of EW, out May 2.

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Comments (6 total) Add your comment
  • baby girlll

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    The show was AMAZING! Check out my site (www.mysocialstandards.com) for a complete review of the Sacramento show.

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