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Concert Review: Time to burst the ego bubble
by Cortney Maddock
Jun 06, 2008 | 969 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo
“You can learn more from a critique than from a compliment!”

The quote comes from the small 39-page book Kanye West distributed to fans as they left the Reno Events Center in the early hours of Friday morning after nearly five hours of The Glow In The Dark Tour music.

Oddly enough, the quote doesn’t stand true to West, who in the dedication of the book explained that all the quotes in “Thank You and You’re Welcome” are personal proverbs.

During West’s forever-long encore after what seemed like an eternity-long set, he explained that the media and music critics do nothing but try to bring him down and don’t respect him. Shouldn’t he be learning from the critiques? So here are some critiques to be noted.

Get over yourself. No one likes a narcissist. And because West’s attitude is so overwhelmingly distracting it becomes hard to enjoy his performance, which is loosely based on “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

West’s stage is constructed to resemble a distant planet, which is reminiscent of NASA Mars landing photos. The video screen behind him changes to reflect times of day, and occasionally changes to a computer-esque screen dubbed “Jane,” which is his spaceship that has crash-landed.

West’s performance takes a theatrical approach, but he is relegated to, in comparison to the entire stage, a small square that changes colors and graphics while moving up and down.

After nearly 45 minutes of stage set-up, the crowd started rumbles of “Is he really here? I heard he’s not coming.” After all, it is Reno.

But as soon as the house lights dimmed the crowd screamed and a small shadow climbed onto the moonscape. West started his performance at 11 p.m. and performed straight through for an hour an a half.

As the sun peeked over the stage to “Good Morning” off the “Graduation” album, West seamlessly slipped into “I Wonder” and continued down his line of hits, which included performances of “Through The Wire,” “Spaceship” and “Flashing Lights.”

At the end of “Flashing Lights” the four orbs that hung over West’s stage became illuminated with an alien-looking face and began to lower. The aliens introduced themselves as shooting stars and when West goes to introduce himself, they respond: “We know who you are. You’re the biggest star in the universe.”

Oh please.

A few songs later the beat to “Jesus Walks” started and the crowd roared again — a pleasing response as West’s face suggests, and he begins to bargain with the higher powers. He says if God helps him he will stop “talking shit” and being a pain in the rear at award shows. A small chuckle buzzes through the crowd, but let’s be honest, he’s full of it.

While his music has taken hip-hop to a different level and the performance has upped the ante for larger arena-style tours, his attitude completely distracts the audience from the fact that in a live performance, West raps faster than on CD and he is humble about his spastic dance “skills.”

When the stage lights dim and the audience waits for an encore, West can be seen back-lit on stage, nodding his head in approval of the “Kanye! Kanye!” being screamed at him. It is easy to see why West chose not to have anyone else on stage with him, and in this moment it became clear: He needed all the room for his ego.

Even though West has put in the work to make sure the audience pays attention to him, The Glow In The Dark Tour also showcased Lupe Fiasco, N.E.R.D. and Rihanna.

For the ticket price, it would have been worth it just to see Lupe Fiasco and N.E.R.D. because both performances were amazing.

Fiasco recently released his second album “Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool” and performed songs like “Superstar,” which features singer Matthew Santos, who graced the stage. Fiasco also played “Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor” hit “Kick, Push” and the crowd sang every word back at him.

In contrast to West, Fiasco was humble and shared the stage with his support vocalists and introduced every one of them including Sarah Green on “Daydreaming” and Nikki Jean on “Hip-Hop Saved My Life.”

Fiasco has grown since his first round on tour in 2007, which included a stop at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. He has promise and with continued growth, his powerfully observant lyrics and socially conscious messages will continue to be hits.

Even though Fiasco opened the show, N.E.R.D. followed and played what seemed like every hit in the group’s arsenal, including the group’s single “Everybody Nose” off the album that will be released on Tuesday, “Seeing Sounds.”

Yet, it was a classic moment of backlash that made the song “She Wants To Move” memorable. N.E.R.D. had more than 10 heavily made-up girls join the rappers on stage to dance out the radio hit. And while most of the audience gave their friends the “Oh no she didn’t” looks when a few of the less-than-appealing girls simulated what could be interpreted as oral sex on lead singer Pharrell Williams, karma was quickly enforced.

The girls who were in the middle of making their mamas proud quickly looked confused when the band changed the hip-hop club beat to that of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” The crowd laughed at the girls’ confusion and as the set wrapped up, they were quickly whisked off stage.

After a stage change that resulted in an oddly configured placement of jagged gray blocks adorned with lights in the corners, pop-singer Rihanna took the stage and opened with the song “Breakin’ Dishes.” Maybe that was what the stage was supposed to resemble.

Rihanna half-heartedly lip-synced through her set of tracked songs and didn’t even bother to hold the microphone to her mouth for more than half the songs, which consisted of the beginning and first chorus of hits like “SOS,” “Don’t Stop The Music” and her latest single “Take A Bow.” The only song she mouthed in its entirety was mega-hit “Umbrella.”

Rihanna’s set was a mess of awkward dance movements that included back-bends and dancers fawning over her black-spandex-covered body, ultimately making some people wonder where the Rihanna from her first album, “A Girl Like Me,” went. That girl had curves, was naturally beautiful and would never wear a red jacket that looked like it came from Janet Jackson’s closet circa 1989’s “Rhythm Nation.”

But Rihanna really stepped on toes when she couldn’t sing her own songs and decided to butcher portions of M.I.A.’s single “Paper Planes” from the 2007 album “Kala,” which Rihanna somehow managed to mix into a cover of Lauren Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing).”

Regardless if West was the real reason to purchase Glow In The Dark tickets, seeing Fiasco and N.E.R.D. perform was completely worth the price of admission. West put a lot of hard work into his performance and should be rewarded with a pat on the back, but no more high-fives because those just go to his head.

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