Author: Berit Anderson
Last Tuesday night, I left the snugness and security of Eagle Rock and embarked on an odyssey through space. My journey began at LA’s Nokia Theater, temporary home to Kanye West’s sold-out Glow In The Dark Tour. Supplied by my concert companion with an overpriced pair of the hip-hop star’s signature shutter glasses, I settled into my seat for an evening with West and his compatriots of hip-hop.
Lupe Fiasco opened the show. Though his performance was considerably longer than his Oxy debut in Thorne Hall, it was rather unremarkable otherwise, save for an impassioned knee-slide across the stage during a break in the action. N.E.R.D too gave an enjoyable but unimpressionable performance, despite the star power their name added to the ticket.
It wasn’t until Rihanna took the stage, decked out in a black-and-lime green spandex bodysuit and platform boots, that the crowd really started to buzz. Her set included practically every Top 10 hit she has released in the past few years, in addition to a few other songs. She belted out versions of “SOS,” “Shut Up and Drive,” “Hate That I Love You” and “Umbrella,” as back-up dancers swirling neon light sabers sashayed across the stage behind her.
Still, there was no question as to who the real star was that evening: West himself. His entrance marked the beginning of an intergalactic adventure that was more IMAX hip-hopera than run-of-the-mill concert, with West acting as the sole character-an astronaut seeking to bring creativity back to earth. Despite his own rhyming genius, Kanye managed to make the focus of his performance visual rather than lyrical, performing from atop a constantly changing panel of lights that reflected the whirling galaxies and desert planets through which he traveled. He rarely addressed the audience, narrating his sets instead through conversation with the technological voice of his spaceship, Jane, and the thematic content of his songs.
“Good Morning” started off the set as West found himself wandering the surface of an unfamiliar desert planet after the crash of his spaceship. He then transitioned into an airy “I Wonder” as his spaceship took off again and a series of pinky red stars exploded on the screen behind him. The most spectacular lights display, however, erupted to the tune of “Diamonds of Sierra Leone,” as 15-foot jets of flame in changing colors spewed from behind West to illuminate a stunning pink horizon.
At one point, when not even his trusty spaceship Jane could bring him out of his slump, West performed a particularly touching rendition of his tribute hit “Hey Mama” in recognition of his recently deceased mother that brought a respectful hush over the patrons of the Nokia Theater.
With the exception of a duet with Lupe, West performed solo for more than two hours, pausing only for one short breather as “Don’t Stop Believing” echoed throughout the theater. He lay panting, sprawled out across the lit risers. To finish off the intergalactic experience, West provided the audience with a spirited “Stronger,” followed by “Homecoming” and “Touch the Sky” as he arrived back to Earth.
At one point in the show a busty alien told a still-lost West, “Of course we know who you are. You’re the biggest star in the universe.” While fans of other musical superstars with a little more proven longevity might beg to differ, they’d all have to agree on at least one thing: Kanye gives by far the best tour of the universe.
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