Kanye West and his G.O.O.D. Music team are gearing up to drop their Cruel Summer album in the next few weeks, but ‘Ye appeared sans crew last night (save for a very brief appearance from Pusha T) taking his stage show above and far beyond for a solo set at Revel Resort in Atlantic City.
With the release of his “Power” music video in 2010, it became clear that Kanye West‘s art aesthetic is ever-evolving. And when he put on the rare solo set on Friday night (July 6), his use of imagery, sound and dancers gave audience members the feeling of being briefly transported into one of his music videos.
‘Ye fueled subtle elements from his statement-making clips into an unforgettable live show that found him running through songs as new as this week’s “New God Flow” and classic as “Through The Wire.” West once described his “Power” music video as “a moving painting,” and when the show began suddenly with a burst of color, energy and searing imagery, it all seemed to make sense.
With a grandiose opening, fitting for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘s epic intro track, the stage was flooded with dancers clad in nude feathered leotards, while the beat from “H.A.M.” lingered for a few moments, and finally “Dark Fantasy” dropped, with ‘Ye rising above the stage on an elevated platform. “Can we get much higher?” resonated from the speakers, with bass shaking the floors, and ‘Ye hovered above the crowd while his dancers waited patiently until he made his way to the main stage.
The background featured etched imagery of tortured figures that look like they’ve been carved out of a church wall, and throughout the show, the screen is lit in a variety of colors that complement every song. An entrance of that size could only lead into “Power,” and then ‘Ye spit some lines from his new G.O.O.D. Music single “New God Flow.” “Went from being the most hated to the God flow/ I guess that’s a feeling only me and LeBron know,” he rapped energetically, before dipping into classics like “Jesus Walks” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” (which he stopped and restarted after telling the crowd, “This is my favorite song I ever did”).
Other highlights of the night came during his performance of “Diamonds.” In addition to the multitude of Roc signs in the air, the lights onstage formed dotted diamond outlines that prompted some flashbacks to the lighting effects in the Throne’s recent “N—as in Paris” video. “Monster” and “Flashing Lights” drew big reactions from the crowd, and the dancers returned in full force for “Love Lockdown,” striking dramatic poses on the beat, but no Kanye West concert is complete without one of the eccentric musician’s monologues. This one, delivered during 808s Heartbreak‘s “Say You Will.” found him upset over a girl who blew him off for the night, the perfect segue into “Heartless.”
Whatever songs the fans may have been feeling most during the night, it was clear Kanye’s favorite was “Cold,” which he delivered twice, adding in a few teasing words the second time. “As a man, I’m not perfect, but my music is,” he told the crowd, laughing at himself. “This is the best you will ever get. I’m not saying that in an arrogant way. I’m saying that in a factual way.”
Well over an hour into the show, Yeezy had plenty of energy left, telling the crowd he was ready to “get the show started,” launching into “Gold Digger” and “All of the Lights,” relaying a story about how The-Dream helped him come up with the song’s hook.
He wasn’t joking about having more tricks up his sleeve, either, saving one of the biggest moments of the night for “Runaway.” Using poles, swaying along to instrumental music, his dancers held up a white sheet, rustling it back-and-forth until they finally removed it to reveal ‘Ye clad in all red leather on the stage. He stood at a synthesizer, tapping out the notes to “Runaway,” while the dancers convulsed around him, and Pusha T joined him as the only feature of the night.
“Runaway” brought the memorable set to a climax, rolling right into “Lost in the World,” with the dancers banging out their interpretive moves, much like in the video. And, after the energy mounted to fever pitch, Kanye brought things back down to calm, closing out the show with “Hey Mama,” an ode to his late mother Donda West.
West will perform a second show at Revel Resort on Saturday (July 7).