Kanye West: The "Yeezus" tour
Live review: TD Garden, Boston, Nov. 17, 2013
Remember in the 1970s when the music industry was truly booming, and artists would release double-live albums with super elaborate packaging? No? Well, that's how it used to be, and with a lot of those expensive packages of double-live albums there always seemed to be photos of these huge stage props that you the listener at home (who either couldn't afford to go to the actual concert or were too young to go to the actual concert) would never understand.
Of course these performers in the 70s had huge stage props, because the music industry was healthy and the big rock stars could afford huge stage props and they thought it was the greatest thing ever when, say a bunch of little people wore robes and carried out an enormous amp, so they put pictures of it on the inner sleeves of their live albums.
Well, this is obviously not the case anymore, but Kanye West acts like it is. And you know what? This is not a bad thing at all!
If he did end up releasing a double-live album from the "Yeezus" tour, there certainly would be a lot of iconography on the inner sleeve that listeners at home wouldn't understand if they didn't attend one of the shows: the 12 semi-nude women in full-body pantyhose (and I mean full-body! Their faces were covered too, like poor bank robbers), the huge mountain that Kanye would run laps around, the fuzzy spider type creature he encountered on that mountain, or the fact that Kanye wore a series of masks made by designer Maison Martin Margiela that covered his face and eventually turned his head into a disco ball until about three-quarters of the way through the show when the mountain cracked open and Jesus emerged and removed the mask. Actually, now as I write this, even if you were at the show, you might not actually understand what was going on.
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But that's also OK.
Kanye touched upon the highlights of the "Yeezus" album, the belly-churning bass frequencies sounding even more intense and darkly menacing coming through mammoth speakers, and he also hit all the high notes of his previous releases after his mask was removed. But before he turned the show into party-time, there was a whole lot of visual stuff going on (the aforementioned mountain, monsters, panty-hosed women as well as several costume changes and projections of definitions of words like "rising," "falling," "searching" and "finding.") that seemed to confuse the hell out of the clown car of twerking teen couples who doubled up in the row in front of me. Did somebody introduce the rapper to the cult classic feature "Holy Mountain" recently?
Anything that subjects the masses to art is a good thing though, especially if that visual art is paired with the artist's most compelling album to date. It reminded me of how Gaga and Kanye were supposed to go on tour together a few years back, but it never happened. It probably never happened because Kanye didn't want to be out-artsied! And really, Gaga is the only one that would be giving Kanye a run for his money as far as the visual performance art that accompanies her songs. But what sets these two apart, is that Gaga still makes sounds that are overly accessible, while Kanye challenges all of the senses.