There's something quite alluring about Kanye West. The man is a shameless self-publicist who holds himself in the absolute highest regard, never prone to unnecessary modesty or unwilling to tell you - at length - just how good he is, or exactly how important a figure he is in popular music. His life, in his own words, is "dope" and he does "dope shit". So how, when you take on board all of this self-glorifying hubris, has Kanye West not descended into utter farce by now?
Well, as we witnessed yesterday evening in Marlay Park, West's perception of himself is pretty much spot on. It likely came as a blow to his ego that he didn't sell near the amount of tickets as Arcade Fire a few days prior but if it was bothering him, West didn't let it show.
Emerging shortly after 9pm adorned in what appeared to be a matching stone-washed jeans jumpsuit and chainmail mask (hey, why not?), West opened with a fist-in-the air version of 'Black Skinhead' from his recent album Yeezus and took in versions of 'New Slaves', 'Stronger', 'Niggas In Paris' and Jay Z's 'Run This Town' over the next forty-five minutes.
By this point, West is suitably loosened up and reminds us all to tell our first-born about the time "you saw Yeezus play in a field". Yes that is indeed very high on our list of priorities, Kanye. If the concert had any real problems with its flow, it was that it ran out of steam a little after an hour had passed. West, as engaging a performer as he is, did his best to continually rally the crowd but his minimal stage set-up of just him, a DJ, another musician and a large video screen backdrop sometimes failed to emphasise his performance on the underlit stage. By the time his last (and 23rd) song of the night 'Blood On the Leaves' reached its climax, we were very much ready to head for the hills.
When all was said and done the impression left from seeing Kanye West live was that he's a unique performer, an excellent producer and has a knack for writing compelling music and controversial verse. But what's more, he's unapologetic in his performance. Kanye West is a superstar. You know it; I know it. If only he'd stop telling us at every opportunity.
Review by John Balfe
Kanye West played:
I Don't Like (Chief Keef cover)
Clique (Kanye West, Jay-Z & Big Sean cover)
Can't Tell Me Nothing
Niggas in Paris (Jay-Z & Kanye West cover)
Hold My Liquor
Run This Town (JAY Z cover)
Diamonds from Sierra Leone
All Falls Down
Touch the Sky
All of the Lights
Blood on the Leaves
setlist by setlist.fm