Live Review: Kanye West, Rihanna - Nokia Theater, Los Angeles
Tue, 22 Apr 2008 07:37:42
At the first soldout Los Angeles stop of "The Glow in the Dark Tour," minus a big thank you, Kanye West said next to nothing to the crowd. That's because he truly doesn't have to say a thing
to anyone anymore. He just needs to perform. That's what he does best, and if last night's show was any indication, West may very well be one of the best. Kanye's show mirrors a
big budget, Sci-Fi flick. In fact, it's better than that. It's a full-blown, hip hop space opera, cruising at lightspeed towards being one of those legendary tours few bloggers have had
the chance to see. It's something like when Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg shared the stage for "Up In Smoke," but Kanye flies this ship solo—with only
Lupe Fiasco showing up for his duet with Ye, "Touch the Sky." In essence, Kanye's a lone
warrior fighting the trends and tides of a dying industry, but proving success lies only a rhyme away.
Despite barely addressing the crowd, Kanye talked a lot to his spaceship, Jane, our tour guide through his "Universe." The show kicked off with a bang. Kanye crash landed on a desert stage. A screen peered over the universe behind him, and from there, his raps controlled the concert's narrative. It's an innovative live approach that's perfect for Nintendo Wii Nation and those in Help-Me-Quit-MySpace support groups. He began with "Good Morning," literally waking up from the sandy stage and flowing freely over the beat. A spacey "I Wonder" followed, and West glided across the tilted riser, in a victorious pose. Next up "Champion" only proved his dominance further.
One of the most glorious moments came early on during "Diamonds of Sierra Leone." The screen projected pristine space travel, as lights shone up from out of craters below our captain. Of course everyone put their diamonds in the sky, without West even asking. With pyro blasting and fire behind him, "Can't Tell Me Nothing" shook the room with pure, sonic vitality. The audience sang along to every word as the blazes on stage got higher and higher.
"Flashing Lights" perfectly fit the dolled-up LA crowd. As West crooned, "She don't believe in shooting stars, but she believes in shoes and cars," he enunciated each syllable clearly. The words resonated immensely. It could be taken as a subtle commentary on romance in Los Angeles. In that latest hit, he dissects materialism mistaken for love—something people all too often fall prey too in this city. But rather than preaching, he spits clever verses as shooting stars fly behind and above him. No doubt, everyone believed in shooting stars in Nokia Theater, no matter how much Louis Vuitton they've got. Meanwhile, "Gold Digger" brought him right back to planet L.A., not without a whole lot of booty shaking though.
Before "Jesus Walks," West talked to the real man in the sky. "God, I promise to stop talking so much shit. I promise to stop spazzing out at award shows." His words definitely hit the haters, because West has gone contrite, in front of everyone. The most heartfelt and poignant moment came when Kanye did "Hey Mama" a tearjerking new ballad written for his recently deceased mother. It was a prayer for his mother complete with the heartwrenching line, "When I get older, im gonna buy you that mansion we couldn't afford." There wasn't a dry eye in sight. Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" blared over the speakers immediately after, as if a message from Mom in Heaven telling her boy to never give up.
West brought a raucous ending with "Stronger," "Homecoming" and "Touch the Sky." First telling the crowd it wasn't over yet with "Stronger," and then thanking them. However, he didn't even need to say that much.
Rounding out a phenomenal bill Rihanna's "Umbrella" provoked the first massive singalong of the night, and her sultry pop on "Don't Stop the Music" also ensured maximum grooving. N.E.R.D. played a strong set capped by "She Wants to Move," while Lupe Fiasco's "Superstar" was the best intro the show could have. However, captain Kanye truly made one small step for man and one giant leap for pop stars of all kinds.