Kanye West brings his Yeezus Tour to Toronto [Review]
Toronto, ON – Originally published January 11, 2014 – In today’s hip-hop scene, there are few rappers who can do what Kanye West can. For years he has successfully pushed the boundaries in terms of music, clothes, interviews, attitude and after witnessing his live show in Toronto this past Sunday (December 22), it too is no exception.
After dropping his sixth studio album entitled Yeezus back in June, Kanye promptly scheduled his second ever solo tour, appropriately called The Yeezus Tour, in which he performed 29 shows starting all the way back in October. Even though it was labeled as a “solo tour” he brought along hip-hop heavyweight Kendrick Lamar to warm up a usually sold out crowd. Any hip-hop head would argue that this could easily be considered as a double headliner with the current popularity of Lamar but as Sunday night at the Air Canada Centre proved; it was all about Kanye.
Kendrick kicked off the evening promptly at 7:30 p.m. to which the crowd was more than prepared for. He was accompanied by a four piece band which perfectly complimented his every syllable. He wasted no time at all as he opened his set with standout track and crowd favorite, “Money Trees.” Often times, openers have a tough time grasping crowd attention but this was not the case for Kendrick. He strongly held the crowd’s attention during his energetic hour long performance which was helped by compelling visuals displayed on a massive three-sided video screen. He effortlessly slid through most cuts off his debut album good kid, mAAd city including “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” “Backseat Freestyle,” “Poetic Justice,” “Swimming Pools,” etc. However, the highlight of his set came about halfway through when he told the crowd that “if pirus and crips all got along” and the menacing synths of song “mAAd city” came through the speakers. The crowd erupted in excitement and proceeded to rap every single word back at the 26 year old Compton native. He concluded with a quick freestyle after which the lights went down and the crowd was left to anxiously await Mr. West.
At this point, Toronto’s Air Canada Centre is packed to the brim as the diverse crowd gets restless and the arena is filled with random applause and shouts. When the lights arose at around and the stage was finally unveiled it was clear that Kanye had yet again pushed the boundaries. Along with the triangular front stage and narrow walk way that jutted out into the crowd, the backdrop was a massive glacial mountain equipped with smoke, ice, snow, lights and of course pyrotechnics. To top it all off, hanging above the elaborate stage setup was a massive oval LED screen that displayed song specific graphics. To be honest, it looked more like something from Cirque Du Soleil than a hip-hop concert but if there is anyone to pull it off, it’s Kanye.
On top of the theatre-esque stage design, Kanye’s set was made to be resemble a true theatrical stage performance as it was divided up into five different “acts”. The first act was entitled FIGHTING which kicked things off with high energy tracks like On Sight, New Slaves and even his renowned verse off hit single “Mercy.” He then moved on to second act entitled RISING. This act was a little longer but still kept the energy at an extremely high level. Kanye ran through songs like “Power”, “Cold” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” but what really made this act special was when he belted out his notable verse on Chief Keef’s hood anthem “Don’t Like”to which the crowd was particularly hyped.
Kanye continued the onslaught of hits after a quick wardrobe (bedazzled facemask) change and a brief description of the next act; FALLING. This is when things got a little more emotional for Yeezy as he crooned out ballads such as “Hold My Liquor” and “Heartless,” however, it wasn’t until he performed the explosively emotional “Blood On The Leaves” that things got real. The heavy horn drops were timed perfectly with bursts of fire set up all over the mountain as a mesmerizing lights show rolled over the crowd. Even with the expensive looking masks covering Kanye’s face during this one, it was by far the most intimate and soulful song he performed.
If you’ve been following Kanye at all for the past 4 months, you will know that he’s been on quite the rant binge. From show to show, from interview to interview Kanye has made it his business to air out some of his “creative” frustrations and he surely didn’t fail to deliver this time around. After a brief rendition of “Lost In The World” and “Runaway,” he proceeded to rant about his current image in the media and all the scrutiny he’s been getting as of late. He kept it fairly calm until a rogue audience member screamed “take your mask off!” and that’s when the floodgates opened. He ended his nearly 20 minute monologue with the promise that “I’m only gonna get crazier” to which the crowd was more than okay with.
After another quick outfit swap, Kanye finally removed his mask and commenced his last act of night, appropriately titled FINDING. In this act, he relished in his classics from throughout the years. Songs like Stronger, Flashing Lights, Through The Wire and Good Life filled the arena’s speakers as he prepared to end things off with his most recent hit, Bound 2. As he went to exit the stage via his glacial mountain, he didn’t forget to thank all the fans, Justin Bieber and “rap god” Drake for coming out, showing support and letting him “create really dope stuff” for the world.
All in all, it was quite the spectacle. To be honest, some of the music was on the backburner as the experience was more than overwhelming. However, the new tracks off Yeezus were delivered with a chilling viciousness and the classic catalogue material got an aggressive facelift, which was more than well received. Despite what your favorite blog or magazine might say about his antics and personal decisions, one thing is quite clear; Kanye can move a crowd. #YeezusWalks
Written by Scotty Glaysher for HipHopCanada