The moment had finally come. The day I had made my New Year’s resolution for — not for one, but for two years. The day I have been looking forward to for the past three months. That day, was the day I saw Kanye West in concert.
These past two years I developed somewhat of a love/hate relationship towards Mr. West. I had tracked all of the blogs and media sources containing speculations of Kanye West’s possible new album releases and tour date announcements. But as those predicted dates passed, I had become a little resentful towards Kanye for raising our hopes and then continuing to let them down. But then, as February rolled around, Kanye delivered to us one of the year’s best albums– his seventh studio album –The Life Of Pablo. This soulful, articulately produced mix of classic and re-invented Kanye was worth the three-year wait. To add to my excitement, I was able to secure tickets to the Chicago stop of his Saint Pablo tour, and it had been on my mind from late June until that blessed day.
As I entered the buzzing United Center Friday evening, the crowd around me seemed to share my feeling of glee and anticipation, not knowing what to truly expect from this evening. This anticipation seemed to grow as the starting time of 8:00 pm passed, but around 9:15, the entire arena went dark and you notice a figure slowly stride onto the levitating stage. I was in shock and disbelief. It was him. The infamous Kanye West, live in the flesh. The stage began to ascend over the floor, its outer lights focused on the screaming crowd below. Soon you heard the beginning intro to “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1.” The show has started.
He continued through “Pt.2” and followed with “Famous,” restarting it twice after the infamous line involving Taylor Swift—all to the crowd’s delight. West continued with a few samples of his most famous covers and feature spots, including “Pop Style,” “That Part,” and “Don’t Like.” The high energy continued with “Black Skinhead” and “N****s in Paris” and he made sure to let us all possess the Kanye West swagger with “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” The highlights of the show happened to be the more meaningful/emotional tracks. The drop on “Blood on the Leaves” contained one of the evening’s more memorable use of lights, while “Heartless” and “Runaway” showcased the artistic transition of Kanye’s body of work.
Finally, the stage began to gravitate towards the opposite side of the arena, and the spotlights shined on the stage as you heard “We don’t want no devils in the house” over the speakers—Ultralight Beam. Arguably one of the best (if not most beautiful) songs off of TLOP, the more soul than hip-hop track was as mesmerizing I expected it to be, and it could not have been a better ending to the show.
Although I wish to have heard some throwback College Dropout–the more obscure West songs, or even Real Friends (a personal TLOP favorite) — I was satisfied with Kanye West standards and new classics. In the end, one of the most memorable parts of evening ended up being the crowd. With each song, you could feel the energy throughout the entire arena. Everyone was singing along almost to the point where Kanye could have let everyone else sing his entire catalog. There is something about thousands of fans singing along to songs you’ve known by heart and sung to yourself for the past eight years. This display of admiration and love towards an artist, along with my mutual admiration and love made the entire experience that much more meaningful. To be able to see one of the greatest musical artists of all time in my lifetime, as Kanye would say, “That’s one hell of a life.”