67°F
weather icon Clear

T-Mobile Arena audience sings Kanye West’s praises

The scenario that the 20,000 or so true believers sang of so lustily was no more within their reach than the man rolling his shoulders and stomping his feet half a dozen feet above their outstretched arms.

And yet, still they gave voice to a self-anointed superhero’s words as if they were their own.

It was one of the more surreal scenes in the history of outsize arena concerts: There Kanye West was, little more than a shadow tethered to a floating, light-strewn platform suspended from motorized trusses that slowly prowled up and down T-Mobile Arena on Saturday.

“If I ever instigated, I’m sorry,” he sang, both his features and voice largely dimensionless, the former due to scant illumination, the latter the result of his voice being Auto-Tuned to the point where he sounded like a remorseful robot. “Tell me, who in here can relate?”

And with that, he let the crowd sing the opening verse to “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” a song with gospel-like incantations that details the perils of having intimate relations with a model who recently bleached her nether regions.

The frothing audience carried the tune with deafening gusto, not just reciting the lines in question, but shouting them out with such fervor, it was as if they were recounting an experience they’d encountered firsthand.

It was a moment that begged a serious question: How can an arena full of overexcited teenagers, ripping their shirts off next to serious hip-hop heads, middle-age parents with young kids in tow and 20-something women zipped into stretchable fabrics all identify so passionately with a man who pointedly elevates himself above all other sentient beings in terms of status, talent, import, even stage presentation?

The answer was spelled out song by manically received song Saturday night: The reason Kanye elicits reactions like this, the reason he’s so beloved, is because he gives himself so fully to, well, himself, the good and the bad, the laudable and the lewd, the brilliant and the petulant, the observant and the obscene.

He’s a true man-child, in an enviable sense.

Think about it: A lot of us are at our most creative when we’re kids, before the responsibilities, demands and social mores of adulthood place bounds upon how our imaginations manifest themselves outwardly — of course, we also tend to be at our most impudent, obnoxious and oblivious to the feelings of others at this age.

West is all of these things at once, and he wages the battle between his childlike id and his more discerning superego in real time, for all to see.

“I embody every characteristic of the egotistic / He knows, he’s so gifted,” he beamed on “Power,” rhyming over a clapping beat and bright synth jabs worthy of Van Halen’s “Jump.” “Reality is catching up with me / Taking my inner child / I’m fighting for custody.”

Sounds a little maddening, but West has an answer for that, too.

“Name one genius that ain’t crazy,” he demanded over whip-cracking snare hits and melodic guitar accents on “Feedback.”

One of West’s greatest skills is taking the insular and making it universal. He doesn’t do so in the traditional way that a songwriter might, where he or she gives voice to an intensely personal feeling, like the experience of heartbreak, and bonds with the audience because it’s an emotion plenty of us have felt at some point, regardless of the details.

West is the opposite: He reminds you in every other song how he’s not like you, how he’s better than that, his arrogance becoming almost motivational in a sense, because it’s the product of an artist who’s willing to follow his creative muse off a cliff. For him, it’s better to be spattered on the rocks below than to compromise his vision.

There’s certainly no capitulating on “The Life of Pablo,” West’s latest record, whose tunes formed a little over a third of his 90-minute, 30-song performance. It’s his most artistically anarchic album, a deliberately fragmented pastiche of contradictory sounds and sentiment alike (Hey, why not pen a tune imagining what it would be like to have a GoPro affixed to one’s penis, but make it sound like something that could be sung in church?).

The chaos of that record was brought to loud, sweaty life on the general-admission floor of T-Mobile Arena, where throngs of fans danced, moshed, jumped on to one another’s shoulders and shouted every lyric in a frenzy of overtaxed adrenal glands.

There were times, like during the one-two punch of “All Day” and “Black Skinhead,” where the energy generated was of such intensity, that it shook the lower-bowl risers until they felt as if they might crumble beneath one’s shoes.

It was like a fault line had been awakened — or perhaps created — by the stomping of so many feet in unison.

West was an equally kinetic presence, swiveling his torso as if he was dodging blows, throwing his fists like a pitcher hurling a fastball, delivering his songs at a breathless pace, seldom lingering on a tune until completion and saying little between tracks (this was a definite change of pace from past tours, where West was frequently prone to serious sermonizing).

The pace slowed during West’s more reflective numbers, like “Only One,” an ode to his deceased mother and his firstborn child, a bewitching “Wolves” and an almost uncomfortably candid “Blood on the Leaves,” where West comes clean about a tryst that led to him impregnating a woman he didn’t want to be with.

It was on this more contemplative note that the show reached its conclusion, ending where “The Life of Pablo” begins, with the album’s spiritually minded opening track, “Ultralight Beam.”

It’s a song about faith, West’s nod to a higher power.

Clearly, he considers said entity a peer.

Read more from Jason Bracelin at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com and follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST