Blugold Radio Blogger Jordan Veloso Reviews Saint Pablo Tour
For all of the negative qualities Kanye West is labeled with, whether it’s being arrogant, egocentric, etc., there is no denying his ambition to take hold of the status quo and thrust it into the avant-garde. This unwavering determination was showcased in all of its glory at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on October 10th, where he took his St. Pablo Tour after nearly nine years of cancellations in the city.
The show started about eighty minutes late and had no opening act, a first for any concert I’ve attended. While waiting, a haze of fog was continually pumped into the venue as a pulsating bass played through a ring of speakers surrounding the floor area, increasing in volume and intensity as the concert’s delayed start came closer. Around 9:20, the restless arena of almost 18,000 fans was blanketed in darkness. The 15×20 foot stage, suspended by a collection of cables over one end of the floor, lowered to the ground accompanied by spaceship-like noises. I felt my anticipation and adrenaline increase with everyone else’s in a slow crescendo, with the stage joining in its rise. This steady climb halted fifteen feet above the fans on the arena floor, with a lone silhouette visibly standing at the center.
The insanity which followed had Yeezy jumping and erratically dancing atop his hovering stage, yelling his lyrics with the fans. The setlist included selections from his most recent album (The Life of Pablo), his verses from other artists’ songs, and many of his greatest hits (my personal favorite being Runaway), which stretched all the way back to his debut album, The College Dropout. ‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1’ from Pablo was the opener to the show and immediately sent a wave of spiritedness over everyone (along with an ear splittingly loud bassline, which pushed me from the edge by the speakers into the center of the crowd. Seriously, I shouldn’t have written off those security guards handing out earplugs beforehand) that never faltered during the concert.
A few mesmerizing light shows lit the floor crowd up in deep shades of orange and red, accompanied by frequent collaborator Mike Dean playing moody synth music reminiscent of an old sci-fi movie (think Blade Runner or 2001: A Space Odyssey). Two interludes played throughout the set-list and transported us to an industrial future on Planet Yeezy. The floating stage stayed dimly-lit for most of the performance as it tilted, rose, lowered and glided over the floor of the Xcel Energy Center, the crowd beneath dancing and following its every movement. The pit right below the stage seemed to become just as much a part of the show as Kanye himself, with the brightest lights being directed there so everyone could admire the fans moshing and losing it (I ventured there for a few of the crazier songs, and it was incredibly cathartic).
Ye, infamous for giving long, unfiltered speeches to fans about whatever is on his mind, was mostly focused on the music, interjecting a few times to welcome fans to the tour or to give stage directions to someone in his entourage. Kanye did stop and run back two songs mid-performance, the first being right after the audience finished belting out the controversial Taylor Swift line from ‘Famous’ for a quick thought about not compromising real artistry for political correctness. The other restart happened during the popular Late Registration cut ‘Touch the Sky’, where he told the crowd, “That sh*t was too crazy the way that sh*t started off, I had to see that sh*t again”. He then proceeded to give Eric, a stage and light coordinator, very specific directions to move the stage slightly back and up right when the beat dropped. “Be prepared,” he warned Eric. Classic Kanye.
‘Runaway’, the artist’s widely celebrated anthem which apologizes for his brash personality, had him telling everyone in the arena to hold their phone lights up during the song’s extended outro, creating a bright glow illuminating everyone’s faces – as if asking for a moment of self-reflection while the speakers oozed his auto-tuned mumbles into the arena. Ending the concert was the powerful, gospel-inspired opener to his last album ‘Ultralight Beam’. An intensely white spotlight blasted down on one end of the floor and slowly pulled Kanye and his stage into its aura. Once the platform was completely taken under the heavenly beam, with prostrated gospel vocals piercing the air, Kanye abruptly disappeared into the light, exiting the stage without a word.
Unlike most concerts, there was no opening act or even a farewell to the crowd. Further separating his show from the rest, the innovative stage design gave concertgoers a better way to experience the performance and turned the idea of finding good viewing spots on its head. The lighting design also carried a strong sense of purpose to it, with the people around me continually staring up in awe. Kanye West is an innovator in his craft and undoubtedly all in for his fans, which he demonstrates with authority in his St. Pablo Tour.
Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1
Pop Style verse
THat Part verse
Don’t Like verse
N***** in Paris
Can’t Tell Me Nothing
Blood on the Leaves
I Love Kanye
Touch the Sky
All of the Lights