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Kanye West and Nas @ Rod Laver Arena, 5-12-08

December 7, 2008

I don’t usually go to big arena gigs like this so I was sceptical at how well this whole show could turn out, luckily I got a fairly decent spot standing not far back from the stage and more luckily it was a super awesome show anyway. Opening with 2 short separate sets were Kid Cudi and Consequence, both played high energy and really fun sets. I didn’t really know much of either’s material but they were enjoyable and a great starter for the night. Up next was Scribe from New Zealand and I was expecting terribleness from him but to be honest he did a pretty decent job, even if he did do a terrible version of “A Milli”. The crowd seemed to love him and I enjoyed the last song he played which I used to sort of like about 5 years ago.

Before this show I had tried to familiarise myself with some of Nas’ work but I only really had the time to properly appreciate two of his many many albums but it turns out it didn’t really matter as his set was fantastic regardless. He sped through so many songs spanning his entire career, doing medleys and hardly playing a full song which was really hectic. The crowd went nuts for “Hip Hop is Dead” and he did an awesome version of “One Mic”, which I was hearing for the first time live and it was a little bit mind blowing. He was engaging, excited to be there and had amazing skills, plus his backing band was also pretty fantastic. Compared to Kanye his show was tighter and he is easily a better MC but his set couldn’t compare to the spectacle that was up next.

Kanye’s stage set-up was pretty epic, three huge screens were behind him with a tonne of awesome lights, his band was huge and seemed to be wearing crazy welding masks and his super cute backup singer lady was wearing a dress that made her look like a dancing tetris piece. The lighting for the show was truly awesome and pretty much the entire 2 hour plus set was entertaining. He opened with “Paranoid” from his new album and while the auto-tuned vocals sound better on record it was still a great opening track with it’s robotic vibe and high energy. Kanye West is indeed full of energy, running up and down the stage, writhing about on his knees occasionally and generally acting a little bit crazy. He was clearly trying to make this show into something original and I think he succeeded because I’ve never seen something like it, at one point he described it as a “moving art installation” which wouldn’t be a bad thing to call it.

He mostly played all his singles including an awesome rendition of “Through The Wire” which I was happy to see, I was also excited to hear him play “Get ‘Em High” but annoyed when he used a vocoder and then cut the song off before it reached my favourite part! Although it would be wrong to whinge about lack of songs from The College Dropout because it was a few albums ago now and you can see that he is an artist in transition from hip-hop to something else entirely. This was especially evident when he went into rants driven by the band his vocoder, my favourite being when someone “threw a penny at him” and Kanye decided that was cause enough to make up a robotic sounding song dissing this guy ending with an “eat shit and die” vocal hook. I couldn’t tell if he was being serious, joking or he if he is just crazy but in the end it was pretty hilarious either way.

“Jesus Walks” and “Stronger”, both played in the encore (I think) were especially cool. Kanye wearing some light-up blipster sunnies for the latter and extending it with a fancy robot like intro; for the former hearing that song live was enough for me as it is just that good. Hearing “American Boy” without the presence of Estelle was weird but still entertaining, as I really dig Kanye’s verses in that track. “Gold Digger” of course was pretty damn good too, mainly because the whole arena was pretty excited to hear it.

The whole show was pretty flippin’ sweet besides his vocoder rants eventually becoming a bit tiring, especially the extremely drawn out versions of “Heartless” and “Love Lockdown”, but by this time I was annoyed mainly becuase my legs were about to die. It was truly a spectacle musically and visually, and coupled with Nas it was a fantastic show that I’m really glad I didn’t miss. I’d see him again and I hope James had fun at the Sydney show. (Note I didn’t take that photo as taking photos was nigh impossible).

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    December 8, 2008 1:24 am

    was the crowd as lilly as you?

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