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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 24, 2014

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In Festival Guide

The stage setup for Kanye West's Thursday night show at the Marcus Amphitheater, but was still an impressive sight.

In Festival Guide

Much of West's show included ballet dancers accompanying his performance.

Kanye West delivers concert of epic proportions


Kanye West is one of the most controversial personalities in popular music today. Often criticized for his antics, the press tends to paint a picture of him as a man that is a constant powder keg ready to explode.

When Summerfest announced they had booked West for a show at the Marcus Amphitheater, several local media personalities denounced the booking as misguided and that it could only serve as a catalyst for trouble.

Looking at the comment sections of different online media outlets in Milwaukee showed that many in the public at large also believed that a Kanye West show could, and would, lead to an explosion of crime and indecency in and around Summerfest the night of his show.

On Thursday night, Kanye West took the stage shortly before 9 p.m. and proceeded to thrill the extremely diverse sell-out crowd for approximately two hours, with no meltdowns, tirades from the headliner or trouble in the crowd.

To the beat of the song "H.A.M." – the first single from his upcoming collaboration with fellow rap superstar Jay-Z – 20 ballet dancers rushed the stage, keeping the crowd in anticipation, waiting for the appearance of West himself.

The staging was simple. There was a large space in the middle of the stage left open for West and his dancers. Stage left featured a turntablist, while stage right featured two musicians who played multiple instruments. The three musicians donned sterile white clothing. Behind the stage was large tapestry of angels fighting a war.

With the stage set and the music to "Dark Fantasy" beginning, the crowd learned quickly that West wasn't even near the stage. He was standing on a platform by the sound and lighting booth between the red and yellow covered sections. The spotlight shone on him and the crowd roared as he delivered the introductory track to his newest album, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," among the people that were there to cheer for him.

Dressed in all black, with a black Chicago Bulls hat to match, West made his way to the stage for his delivery of the single "Power." As soon as the song's familiar chanting and clapping began, the crowd wholeheartedly joined in, building the energy of the night to near boiling point.

A visually confident West then broke into his 2007 single "Can't Tell Me Nothing" from his double platinum album "Graduation" before bringing show opener and frequent collaborator Kid Cudi back onto the stage for their song "Gorgeous."

Toward the end of "Gorgeous" they threw the crowd a curve ball by adding the very hip-hop friendly break beat found at the beginning of Billy Squier's "The Big Beat," which again got the masses moving.

Cudi stayed onstage for two more songs, one of which was "Make Her Say," a funny song that features Kanye and a cleverly chopped Lady Gaga sample that turns her lyric "poker face" into "I poke her face."

West, who didn't take much time away from performing to talk to the crowd, did make sure to let everybody know that it was nice to be back in the vicinity of his hometown of Chicago.

"It feels so good to be back in the Midwest," he said, leading the especially youthful crowd in an attempt to embrace him with their cheers of appreciation.

After a quick run-through of "Diamonds from Sierra Leone," the man known as Yeezy brought out an impressive laser show and rain made of fire for his next track, "Hell of a Life."

Visually, the show up to this point was impeccable and grandiose. But, expecting anything less from the admittedly egocentric perfectionist that is West would be an error in judgment. Even if you hate his personality and music, there can be no argument made against his desire to push the line of artistic entertainment.

After delivering his verse from "Monster," a song that West uses to accept all the flack he receives, he opened up to the crowd for a few moments. Kanye West, as eccentric as he is, is also very self-aware and can even be depreciating at times. In his chat with those in attendance, he gave them his sincere thanks for their support and defense of him even when he was perceived to be at his worst.

"It's fans like you that kept me alive," West confessed, taking time to ad lib some of what he was saying in sing-song form as if he was tossed onstage in a blues bar in the heart of Chicago's west or south side.

Underneath all the vanity, there is still a man that exists, and he took time to show that side of himself during the performance.

West then launched back into his set with more of his singles, performing "Flashing Lights" and "Good Life," with a brief "P.Y.T." intro, which was sampled for the latter.

The Louis Vuitton Don, another of West's occasional moniker, then focused the show back on the theatrical for several songs, bringing the dancers back to the stage and launching into a brief set of tracks from his critically acclaimed fourth album, "808s and Heartbreaks." "Love Lockdown," "Say You Will" and "Heartless" rolled freely from the stage into the crowd, creating another trance-like period for people to simply enjoy. Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)

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Talkbacks

jwintaz | July 1, 2011 at 6:49 p.m. (report)

@tooacute sounds like someone's mad they didn't get to go. if you don't like how he writes then don't bother reading.

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tooacute | July 1, 2011 at 4:14 p.m. (report)

This article might have been really great if you had found someone who knows how to write. A review of a rap concert should flow with the same rhythm and poetic style as that of the artist in question. This choppy excuse for a review reads more like the over-excited piddlings of a fourteen-year old fan girl. There are plenty of good writers in Milwaukee - go find one!

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jwintaz | July 1, 2011 at 1:48 p.m. (report)

great review, poppe.

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ShaneAwesome | July 1, 2011 at 8:15 a.m. (report)

Shouts to Yeezy. I respect his genius. Looks like he's finally growing up.

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