Kanye West Kicks Off L.A. Leg Of 'Saint Pablo' Tour With A Dose Of Humility
By Annie Lesser
While Kanye often talks big about being a genius of godlike status, his song "Saint Pablo"—which his current tour is named—is about his insecurities surrounding rumors that he's irresponsible and mentally ill. For this tour Mr. West put himself above everyone—which is not a surprise—but he also acknowledged that, while he may be a saint, it doesn't mean he's a god.
Some of these ideas were represented visually on Tuesday night at The Forum, where West kicked off the first of five nights in L.A. For one thing, the rapper floated above the audience on a suspended stage. The stage had lights below it shining down on the crowd. And even more lights, all red or yellow, beamed on Kanye and audience members from a giant panel that titled and shifted like a mirror hanging from the heavens. The arena was constantly being pumped with profuse amounts of fog, which contributed to the symbolic imagery of the rapper as an almost-divine figure. It gave the appearance of Kanye floating in the heavens amongst the clouds, and it left him silhouetted throughout the evening, alluding to the idea that you can't look directly at a holy artifact. This latter concept was bolstered by the fact that the large screens depicting West were constantly blurred by video effects.
There were transitions through the show, both visually and tonally. At one point, the lights shifted to where a group of singers delivered hymn-inspired interludes, giving the event the emotional weight of a church service. There were also numerous times where Kanye coaxed the crowd into doing a call-and-response of the lyrics. The most profound of which was during "Heartless," when everyone in the arena repeated the chorus a capella over and over.
While this was all very god-like, Kanye also came back down to earth. There came a moment when he pointed out that, normally, he would be boasting about how this was the best concert you'd ever been to. This night, however, he wasn't going to do that. He politely thanked the venue, his team, and the musicians and singers who had been performing all night. He then hung his head down and turned the spotlight over to the other performers, who played another hymn.
Another highlight: during "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1," which features lyrics by Kid Cudi, Kanye asked the crowd to join in and added, "So Cudi, he in rehab right now, but he got a number one song on the radio, and I want you to sing so he can hear it."
Also, there was a mosh pit directly underneath Yeezy's stage all night, and the show was attended by several celebrities such as Jaden Smith, birthday girl Katy Perry, and Kim Kardashian West in her first night out since being robbed in Paris.
Here's a fan video of Kanye performing an old hit, "Runaway":