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Greatest Concerts Of All Time: Visionary Explosions of Kanye West

Explore Kanye West and his Yeezus and Saint Pablo tours.

20th Feb 2017

Image Credit: GQ

Kanye West’s concerts. Well, where do we start?

It’s difficult to sum up Kanye West himself, let alone the respective tours from his Yeezus and The Life of Pablo albums in the last few years. But maybe this will get us off the mark:

Yeezus meets Jesus

Yeezus Tour

The Yeezus Tour was essentially a Hip Hop opera with a stage designed like a sports field. Kanye didn’t adapt his performance to different settings. Instead - audiences around the world had to adapt to him as he packed out arenas over the course of a year. On a typical night, the stage would be placed in the middle of multi-thousand strong - carnivorous crowd collectively covered by a canopy of visuals from a screen stretching above the entire audience. This is not an exaggeration, this is the world Kanye West created to allow people to truly experience his 21st Century hip hop in. If you don’t believe us, check out this painstakingly patched together fan film of the entire setlist below:

Saint Pablo Tour

This was then followed by the Saint Pablo tour. People were surprised that Kanye would try to top the multi-sensory beauty that was the Yeezus tour. We were surprised he was even doing another one. But somehow Yeezy has managed in many ways to innovate from the soundwaved space nutcracker that was Yeezus that produce something new. He did this by literally making the stage float with the audience. Yes, Kanye West was quite literally crowd surfing. A stage contraption had been built that allowed Kanye to float among an entire arena while he performed. If we are indeed living in a new renaissance, then Kanye West truly is our polymorphic Da Vinci, showing this in the multi-media experience he creates in the true modern renaissance artform of the mega-concert. Here's a glimpse of the Saint Pablo Tour experience.

What has been so special about these shows however is that despite its seventh-dimension haze of artistic craze, both of these tours have been punctuated by raw moments of humanity.

On the Yeezus Tour, a show wasn't a show unless the audience was treated to a series of angsty, auto-tune infused heretical rants. At first these rants were booed by fans, but over time as his articulation become more impactful that resistance metamorphed into adoration. The rants themselves soon became an artform in their own right, a sort of 'signature move' from a titan of modern pop culture . They ended up becoming a unique and integral part to the tour itself, and only made made this period of Kanye’s extremely colourful career even more vibrant.

During the Saint Pablo tour, the groundbreaking human presence of Kanye’s performances also morphed - this time into the sacrificing, self-effacing and melancholic tones of The Life of Pablo era. True to form in a career filled with controversy, the tour came to an abrupt end after his wife Kim Kardashian was robbed at a hotel in Paris. The news reached Kanye on the back of 30 consecutive tour dates and prompted hi to cancel his Los Angeles show midway, announcing with his trademark immediate honesty that “I can’t do this anymore”. By the end of the year the artist had experienced a public melt down, picked fights with the likes of Drake and DJ Khaled, publicly endorsed Donald Trump at a time where most artists were diametrically opposed to everything the politician stood for, and finished 2016 in a psychiatric hospital.

In the early months of this year West has since emerged from his mental treatment sporting a blond hairstyle, refusing to make statements and focusing on his fashion work - debuting Yeezy Season 5 just last week. So much about both the tours and the man himself has amazed and electrified us, hopefully we will continue to experience both feelings as when the name 'Yeezy' is brought up. Regardless of what the future holds for this indignant firebrand, he has certainly burnt his way into the history books.

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