Kanye West - Honda Center - December 13, 2013
Nabil Live shot of an earlier show courtesy of Kanye West's PR
When critics and fans look back at Yeezus 10 years from now, it's likely that we'll remember the tour almost as much as the album itself, basically for the same reason...both seemed to be equal parts genius and bat shit crazy. Any eyebrow raising reactions created by listening to Kanye West's latest offering were only heightened by the performance he's cranked out on this tour, which stopped in Anaheim last Friday after the original November date was rescheduled.
From the beginning, the religious overtones of the album were amplified even more by the presence of a giant mountain at the center of the main stage and a couple cameos from a bearded, white Jesus. Ye's frustration on the album about the media's portrayal of him was read loud and clear by his decision to cover his face with one sparkly Luchador mask after the other for almost the entire show. Well, that and his long-winded rant in the middle of the set that lasted well over 10 minutes, in which he compared himself to everyone from Walt Disney to Michelangelo. And whether you felt empowered or awkward listening to "New Slaves," going to see it performed live probably only solidified those feelings for you as Kanye balanced on the tip of a wobbly elevating stage hovering in the center of a standing crowd. Add in a group of 12 semi-nude back up performers, some fire balls, fake snow and a cadre of old hits that we know and love, and you end up with an amazingly head scratching show.
Upon its release in June, Yeezus was marked by a willful disregard for radio-friendly jams, which could've easily made for an audience that was willing to cheer, but not scream his verses at the top of their lungs. West disproved that theory early, starting his two -and-a-half hour show with album opener "On Sight," as laser zaps, white noise and synth percussion filled the arena whose recitation of the words got the Honda Center shaking like Parkinson's.
Throughout the performance, the giant circular screen fixed above the stage mountain like a halo projected a cloudy, dark storm system that mimicked the energy of the album and at certain intervals in the show flashed the words "Fighting," "Rising," "Falling," "Searching" and "Finding," with definitions that no doubt combined Webster's with West's to create these chapters in the performance that seemed to only partially tie in to the song s that were performed in between them. Mostly the screen just allowed us to see what was going on while Kanye writhed on the floor with his 12 performers.
Dressed in nude-colored unitards with nipple pasties and pantyhose over their faces, his strange muses were a sight to see. Whether they were creating a Lemming train behind Kanye, sparking up flares, wrestling each other or constructing themselves into a human throne for J-Hova to sit on, we were glad to see them putting their years of performance art training to good use.