We went to see Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 Live Show last night, which was also the occasion for his launch of his new album, most recently titled, ‘The Life Of Pablo’.
Rather conveniently for us, Mr West had decided it was something worth the whole world seeing, so rather than having to fly to New York to see the event live at Madison Square Garden, we were able instead to watch it via satellite, at the Vue Cinema, Leicester Square, London. As it happens, 20 million people tuned in, either live at the venue, or in cinemas as we were or via a stream on Tidal.
Kanye West is a modern day everyman, a polymath if you like. He puts his hand to whatever he likes and does it well. There are times when things, like his twitter rants, for instance, get him into trouble, but there’s no mistaking that he’s a very talented individual. Combining two of his loves, fashion and music, we were treated to his new fashion range, Yeezy Season 3, part of New York Fashion Week, as well as songs from his new album.
The event opened with a panning about Madison Square Garden, showing a packed house and people trying to get to their seats. This was followed by a look at the stage, which for some unknown reason was covered in a billowing sheet, resembling a partially inflated hot air balloon.
Like Madison Square Garden, the Vue cinema was also a full house, everyone bubbling with excitement as to what was about to happen. Would Kanye announce another album name change? Would he sing all the songs on the album?
At about 9.30pm (4.30 NY time) the Kardashian/Jenner clan walked in, followed by Kanye and Lamar. The crowd roared – Kanye began the first song, ‘Ultralight Bling’. It’s a gospel number – in fact, Kanye declared the whole album to be a gospel one – “Deliver us love/Deliver us peace/Pray for Paris”. There’s a gospel voice, a gospel choir. A beautifully stirring song. Kanye goes around kissing people near him, friends. The lyrics were striking with lots of Biblical allusions. “This is a God dream”.
We suddenly realised the balloon had been removed, revealing people on stage, they’re models dressed in West’s Yeezy Season 3 range. If there’s one thing to be said for Kanye’s designs, it’s that they’re street style. Sure they’re haute couture, but unlike some fashion designers, he seems to make sure that you could buy these off these off the rack without much alteration. The models are amusing; Twitter reveals that West had issued instructions for the extras in this show – they’re not to show emotion, they’re to stand still, yet not stiff, and so on. They did an admirable job.
We noticed famous faces on the stage – “Is that Naomi Campbell?” “It IS!” Campbell was also modelling Yeezy, in a black fur coat. West sang, ‘Famous’, and assured us he was going to upset a lot of people, especially fans of Taylor Swift, as he sang, “I made Taylor famous!” Tongue in cheek humour characterises this show – West is fully aware of his reputation and is a remarkably clever man. The audience in the Vue cinema laughed at the Swift mention, as they did shortly after when he suggested: “what if I write a song about Kanye?”
“I hate the new Kanye;
I miss the sweet Kanye;
I used to love Kanye;
We still love Kanye; and
I love you like Kanye loves Kanye.”
The setlist of the evening seamlessly blended into one, with highlights also including the graphic yet moving, “FML’, featuring the lyric, “Even though I always fuck my life up/Only I can mention (me? It?)”. He’s aware of his past mistakes; he owns them. West ended with the beautifully stirring song, ‘Wolves’, during which the models all raised their fists. More Biblical allusions: “What if Mary was in the club where she met Joseph, with no love”.
West thanked the crowd, his fans, his friends and his family: “All my brothers, my music family, my wife, my sisters”. He then went to speak to the family and sent his thanks to everyone who had made the event possible.
We had to leave the show at 10.30 to make our last train. Our impressions of ‘The Life Of Pablo’ are very favourable. West declared this to be the best album ever. He’s often prone to exaggeration to prove a point, but perhaps, this time, he might be right on the money. It’s hip-hop but not as we know it. With ‘The Life Of Pablo’ Kanye West has forged a different genre. It’s not the old Kanye, it’s not the sweet Kanye…it is, however, a new and exciting Kanye, one who doesn’t give a damn what people think, one that can’t be put in a box…that’s got to be a good thing.