Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark tour made its long-awaited touchdown at New York’s Madison Square Garden last night (May 13), and one got the sense this was the show for which West has been preparing his entire life.
The artist took to his moonlit, smoke-filled, planet-like stage in jeans, a sweater missing one sleeve, elaborate shoulder pads and a red windbreaker tied around his waist.
Beginning with “Good Morning,” West informed the crowd that he was a space traveler who’d crashed on a planet devoid of creativity. West’s music and performance merely provided the soundtrack to his escape from planet non-creative, if you will. West even had a “Knight Rider”-like talking computer named Jane, helping him through this difficult predicament.
“Remember, this isn’t your first crash,” said Jane just before West performed “Through The Wire.” “Champion,” “Get ‘Em High,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” with flames flying each time the song’s “oh” sample dropped, followed, and during “Flashing Lights,” West danced until he eventually humped the planet-like stage.
Things got even more conceptual when West and Jane attempted to “escape” the planet using the shooting stars mentioned in “Flashing Lights.” Alas, they couldn’t, and crashed back down to the earthen stage. After “Drunk and Hot Girls,” “Spaceship” and “Gold Digger,” West called out and promised God that “if you get me out of here, I promise to stop talking sh*t and spazzing out at awards shows. I just want to go home.”
It seems like God heard West, because after “Jesus Walks” and an emotion-filled performance of “Hey Mama,” Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” boomed through Madison Square Garden. “Stronger” was next, while West stabbed at Jane’s buttons on an oversized motherboard displayed on a giant stage screen, frantically preparing for liftoff.
“We need the brightest star in the universe. We need you Kanye. You can glow in the dark,” chirped Jane.
There’s no doubt the set was extremely creative and the concept was amazing. West’s stamina, performing alone for almost two hours without any special guests, or real breaks was breathtaking. Each song was a new arrangement, adding new chords or more drums, among other tweaks. However, West seemed to be so involved in the narrative that he didn’t directly speak to the crowd once.
Hopefully, West’s next headlining tour will not only take his fans to another world, but include a little interaction as well.
Lupe Fiasco opened, performing on an unfairly tiny stage in a black sparkly Polo and shiny black jeans. The set featured “Go Go Gadget Flow,” “Paris, Tokyo,” “Fighters” and “Superstar,” the latter two of which found backup singers Matthew Santos and Sarah Green trading high notes. Fiasco also held up a plaque celebrating gold certification (500,000 copies) for his sophomore album, “The Cool.”
N.E.R.D. was next up, flanked by three pianists, including Chad Hugo, two drummers, one guitarist and two stationary hype men. Pharrell Williams hopped around the stage, performing “Anti,” and “Brain” before shouting, “I can’t believe N.E.R.D. finally made it to MSG! How many came to get your money’s worth?” The set closed with current single “Everybody Nose” and the 2004 hit “She Wants To Move.”
Rihanna, the only female on the bill, was by far the most interesting and interactive performer of the evening. Clad in a black layered-lace gown with a hood, the singer hit the stage to Nelly Furtado’s “Maneater,” backed by two guitarists, a drummer and four dancers. Beyond her own tracks like “Breaking Dishes,” “Pon De Replay” and “SOS,” the artist covered M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” and Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing).”
Ditching the dancers for two background singers, the West Indian pop star then gave heartfelt renditions of “Hate That I Love You” and “Unfaithful.” Closing her set with “Umbrella,” Rihanna shared that she “fell in love with the song instantly — it was the ‘eh eh eh.'” Chris Brown, her rumored boyfriend, joined her for their “Umbrella” remix, “Cinderella,” but each left the stage without any discernable displays of affection.