Kanye West delivered an absolutely stunning performance during his Saint Pablo Tour Monday night at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul.
Whether you love him or hate him, you know who he is. Throughout his career, Kanye West has pushed the boundaries and used his creativity to revolutionize the music industry. For West, it’s his way or the highway, and we will not settle for anything less than perfection. He’s one of the only artists who doesn’t include an opening act before his shows, something which is unheard of at music venues.
It’s 6:00 p.m. on Monday night in downtown St. Paul. Hundreds of people are waiting outside the Xcel Energy Center in preparation of Kanye West’s Saint Pablo Tour performance. It has been 8 years since the last time West performed in Minnesota and those in attendance ranged from young teenagers to full-grown adults. Just looking around, you’ll see somebody in sweatpants and a flat bill standing next to somebody wearing a dress and heels. The amount of diversity was unbelievable. West’s fan base has always been broad and this is just a slight example of how.
As 7:30 p.m. approached, the streets, bars, and line to the doors became more and more crowded. As the sun started to go down and the fans started to enter the arena, a sense of anticipation and excitement from everybody around became very apparent as multiple Kanye chants erupted upon entering.
After getting inside and making our way through the seemingly endless merchandise line, we made our way to our seats, front row in the lower section. The arena was filled with fog, as the lower-level standing room area started filling up more and more. The inside appeared to look nothing like a concert, with no stage visible, until West eventually and quietly, came out on his elevated “floating” stage, which hovered roughly 15 feet above the standing room crowd while swaying to different ends of the arena throughout the show. The stage tilted and swayed, but West was harnessed to the stage for safety precautions.
At roughly 9:00 p.m., the stage lit up as West opened the show by performing, “Father Stretch my Hands, Pt. 1”. As soon as the beat started and the lights came on, the somewhat idle crowd erupted, jumping up and down and cheering. It’s safe to say that from that point forward not a single seat was used for sitting. The performance quickly went from a concert to what seemed to be a cult-like experience, with West being the leader and the audience members drinking the Kool-Aid. People were raising their hands and praising West as if he was a god.
After following up with, “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 2”, West continued on his path of songs from his latest album, “The Life of Pablo,” by performing his infamous song, “Famous.” Seconds into the song, West cut the song short to say something to his fans. Contrary to what was expected by many fans, it was not a typical Kanye rant.
“How crazy is it that this tour is actually named after this city in Spanish? Welcome to Saint Pablo.”
West went on to mention how it’s moments like this, that show it’s still possible to be a true artist and that anybody can make it their own way if they have the desire and drive to do so. He then replayed “Famous” from the beginning, as the crowd went absolutely ballistic, again.
Throughout the speech, as well as his entire performance, the lights were never truly focused on West himself. Rarely could you see his facial expressions and at times you could not even see him on the stage. This is not by accident; this has been an occurrence at all of his Saint Pablo Tour performances.
After starting the concert with three songs off his latest album, West went on to perform a medley of songs from older projects, while later switching back and forth between newer and older songs.
After performing his song, “Power”, there was a slight intermission/light show. Music stopped as eerie, space-like noises faded in and out while lighting was on and off in different places of the arena, giving a calm feeling after a very upbeat song.
Following the quiet light show, West got the crowd right back into it by performing, “Blood on the Leaves”, a very popular song off his 2013 album, “Yeezus”. He followed up with somewhat of another light show, as a red laser beamed from behind West as he walked by his stage, giving off the appearance of him walking on somewhat of a red horizon.
After performing some of his classics, such as, “All of the Lights” and “Stronger”, West finished out the night with two of his most popular songs off, “The Life of Pablo.”
Following his performance of “Fade”, which was still included with the red light beam, West transitioned and ended the show on a more soothing note performing, “Ultralight Beam”, off his newest album. As he performed this final song, a white beam appeared in the middle of the arena as West’s stage slowly approached and glided through it. This part of the show seemed like a religious experience for all involved, with everybody singing along with their hands in the air.
As the song came to an end, Kanye simply walked off the stage through the smoke and out of the arena without saying any final goodbyes as the lights to the Xcel then turned back on. A truly cocky and confident way to end an ecstatic performance.
Photo by Evan Heier