“Glow In The Dark” Tour Review: Philly

Kanye West is one of hip-hop’s few true geniuses that pushes the culture and musical genre forward with each outing of his. Whether it’s the daring sound of his third album, Graduation, the provocative (or some would simply say confusing) clip for his last video, “Flashing Lights,” or now his otherworldly showcase, “The Glow In The Dark” tour, which stopped at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey over the weekend.

‘Ye, as always, should be credited for his ambition. The Chicago lyricist often goes without praise for the way he introduces the hip-hop audience to global trends and vice versa, introducing the global audience to hip-hop at large.

The downside to trend setting, however, is that every so often there’s a miss.

And unfortunately West is off the mark this time.

He doesn’t miss entirely. The giant LCD screen that West performs in front of for most of his set is impressive. Throughout the show, lights cut in and out and flash in the background while smoke billows on stage, creating a visually stunning sight. At times, West moves in and out of the imagery masterfully, in effect performing almost as an interpretive artist.

His entrance to “Stronger,” and songs like “I Wonder” and “Heard ‘Em Say” are imbued with an emotional jolt by the light offerings and West’s less-is-more vocal delivery on each.

It’s easy to see why Diddy would approve. It’s easy to see, too, why his show has been getting mixed reviews.

“Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” with its big, chanting chorus, on the other hand, was muted by the theatrics.

The song, bare and passionate, became ‘Ye’s first street anthem last year. The theme, more about defiance than monetary desire, connected with fans as West talked directly to both thugs and backpackers alike. Everyone related to the idea of bravado in the face of adversity. Fancy tricks weren’t needed.

So it’s worth noting that West, a natural-born connector if there ever was one, didn’t even acknowledge the audience until almost half-an-hour into his just over hour-long set.

Physically, he waved his arms in order to get the crowd louder. But he didn’t directly address the audience until later in the show. Also, at points, when he performed sitting on the floor or with his back slightly to the audience there was a noticeable lag.

For an artist such as West, who craves acceptance and reception to his work, it was odd. You beg for the world to pay attention and you often speak about how great your work is (which, with regularity, it is) but once you have the stage to yourself you stop talking?

The notion seems extremely self-indulgent. Especially considering a concert is about becoming one with your audience; in this case, the die-hards who supported West and helped his album debut at number one and also top 50 Cent’s challenge last Fall. And now, given the opportunity to reward them, Kanye doesn’t fully.

West is certainly brilliant, it goes without saying, and the light component to the show was impressive, but the combination never coalesced. Far too often, it felt like he wasn’t projecting his presence (‘Ye was the only person that appeared on stage until Lupe Fiasco joined in at the very end). Older selections of West’s also seemed stale when combined with the flashy laser show.

Kanye is at his best when, even though he’s ascended to higher heights, he’s fighting as if he still has something to prove to fans. To prove that he can produce, to prove that he can rap, and to prove that he can be as big a superstar as Jay-Z.

His genius lies in his genuine passion to please, which usually is all heart and about servicing fans. During his “Glow In The Dark” run he’s made it all about himself and aesthetics, without the soul that powers much of his work.

Perhaps ‘Ye could have taken one more page out of Big Brother’s playbook and paid attention to (most importantly) you, the customer. –Jayson Rodriguez

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  • Trey Stone

    oh shit

  • WF

    i gotta disagree. i thought the concert was dope from beginning to end. kanye really did his thing.

  • Lastgreat1

    This writer sounds like a hater. Its art stupid, its however Kanye wants to protray it to the world. It sucks when you do something positive and people try to find something wrong, just to take attention away from what he’s doing. With all the writing this guy does, he should write an album, go on concert and show the world how its done.

    • Cinsere

      For christ’s sake! Learn the difference between critiquing and “hating,” people! There’s a purpose for critics, and that’s so that when an artist’s ego blows to the size of Kanye’s, to the point where he’ll do any and everything he can think of and think that it’s the best thing ever done, someone from an objective standpoint can tell him “um, you really could’ve done this and that better.” Ya’ll niggaz that scream “hater” all the time make me think that you would be happy with a world full of yes-men, so that nobody would ever say anything bad about anybody.

      Kanye is a great producer and artist, but he’s nothing special on stage. He doesn’t have good stage presence, and he over-performs everything. The melodrama gets annoying very quickly. And this review encapsulates everything I thought this show would be like, which is precisely why, despite my girl begging me to take her, I didn’t go. I want to see good performing, not a light show.

      But I guess I’m “hating” too, huh?

  • http://xxlmag.com eskay

    you wildin Jay.

    somebody complained to me about him not talking at MSG earlier today. since when does that make or break a performance? I really didn’t even notice that until ya’ll pointed it out.

  • mikey t

    he ripped off Daft Punk on “Stronger”, and it sucked… now he tried to rip off Daft’s stage show and it crashed and burned…

  • Youngsouth23

    Who ever wrote this is wack yo. That show was on point from beginning to end. So what this nigga didn’t say nothing to the ppl OMG!!! That was so bad on kayne’s part. Come on if this dude ain’t say nothin to the ppl the whole show that probably would have still been saying that was a great show. It seems like to me when somebody can’t think of somthing like this or do something like this they have to pick out all the bad things about it. I agree with Lastgreat1. The dude that wrote this why won’t he go win a MTV award, A Grammy, A BET and whatever other awards Kanye has won. Let him go be a super producer on top of perform in different countries and ppl over there knowing your name, on top of your mother’s death in the back of your mind. Let him go do that and then he can talk about Ye and his big ass screens and not speaking to the crowd. He is what you call hiphop.

  • Brian

    I am really curious as to if the writer of this review has ever been to another rap concert. So you would rather just have an artist run around stage with a black back drop while his annoying friends accent the last word of every line? I can do that in my basement. Were you even listening to what Kanye was saying at the show? Were you listening to what the “spaceship” was saying. “Creativity is dead on this planet.” I can see why…bc people get pursecuted for trying new things. “OMG, this wasn’t like every other rap show I’ve been too, I don’t like this.” Open your eyes, Kanye cares about his fans by putting the kind of effort into his tour that he did. Not just by rapping in front of a black curtain and telling everybody to put their hands up.

  • psmith

    Disagree I was at the concert and it was a great experience…The crowd was into it 90 percent of the time…the crowd only slowed down when they needed a rest fro yelling and screaming not bcause of a certain way in which he performed.

  • http://myspace.com/phantom916 phantom

    I thought the show was freekin sweet. I’m glad he wasn’t talkin so much…all that “Whats up(your city here)!?” ..corny segways into the next song etc. etc. I thought the show was fresh. For the most part he uses the voice he recorded with, when so many other times artists yell and sound boo boo. Completely original. It was G.O.O.D.

  • JG

    the concert was sick. whoever says it wasnt must not have seen the same shit as i did.

  • gkid12345

    hiphop has become so fken gay when they accept a fag like this guy. I wish B.I.G and Tupac would come back for a week to annihilate these sucker weak mc’s.

  • droopey

    hmm thats true the artist is suppost to hype the crowd even more not just rely on the new technology.

  • Jig Insane

    This review is crazy, I was just at the Chicago stop and the shit was off the chain. everyone played they part. Kanye came on and shutt he shit down period. He was on way longer then an hour in his hometown, and i thought him being able to control the stage without all the annoying hype people were excellent. He kept everyones attention, stading and juimping around and didnt need dancers and other sidetracks.

    Essentially the man made an intimate concert with a grand audience. this was the best large scale concert i’ve ever been to, Ye’ Owned the United Center that night, and just the month before I saw Mary and Jay there, but they were nothing compared to this. Thanks for coming home Ye’ now go and conquer the world. till the next my nigga.

  • keke

    I have to agree with Jig Insane. I was at the Uniter Center Friday night and I thought the concert was phenomenal. I go to concerts regularly and I have seen many different kinds of shows. I think that Kanye was trying to expose the hip hop audience to a different kind of show. A show that doesn’t rely on 12 hype men on stage reciting the last syllable of each word. He was so into the show, he was passionate, he danced, he gave emotion. He was the only man on the stage and the entire audience was into his set. Since the theme of his show was being trapped on an unknown planet, he is by himself, and trying to get back home. He stayed in character. I don’t think that any show is flawless but he did not miss the mark. Maybe it was different cause he was home but I have seen reviews and heard ppl from other parts of the country who loved his show as well. I think that this was a show that we are not used to, a different theme. Ppl will take from it what they want but I thought he did an amazing job, and it was very inspiring.

  • keke

    And also, a comment on Jay. I love Jay, I think he is one of the best ever in the rap game. But his performance style can fall flat to me at times. Jay does acknowledge his audience but he just stands there in one spot. He will move around from time to time but he does not have the energy that Kanye or Common, or Black Thought has. Overall, I think there are things that you can enjoy from many great performers and there are things that you wish were better. I think that Kanye is trying to set himself up to be known as one of the greatest performers, rappers, producers, writers in music period. Not just rap. He is trying to prove he can do a one man show with no hype, no supporting casts…all by himself…and I think that he is on his way to that great musician status.

  • Dre Peoples

    If you gay niggas don’t stop hating on real artist and stop listening to soulja boy and prodigy and all these other washed up and untalented rappers then yall should just commit to be fit(into a casket)…The damn concert is ment to be like a movie,understand dummy’s.Do the actors on the movie screen interact with the auidience?Does Sara Jessica Parker acknowlege you for helping her movie do better than Harrison Fords?NO,so stop acting like he has to speak and interact with the audience for it to be a good show.He crashed on an uknown planet and your witnessing how he’s gonna make it and he shows you through his music.Thats why he did “goldigger”(he missed females) or “Homecoming”(he made it home)DUH!…It wasn’t a “Concert” It was a day in the life of Kanye’s Mind.Sluets!

    • Cinsere

      Good concept does not necessarily = good execution.

  • majornasty

    I’m a fan of all kinds of music and I’ve been to about 400 concerts. I saw Kanye play new years eve in Vegas and It was the best hip hop show I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen Jay, Em and 50. It was one of his 1st shows he did after his Mom died and the raw passion and emotion was undeniable, not to mention the stage show which rivaled Nine inch Nails or Pink Floyd. It obviously wasn’t your typical rap show and was an amazing concert for any music fan.

  • dark vanilla

    Fuck this faggot. I thought the Glow in the Dark Tour was dope. I wonder if this review was what Kanye wuz talking bout when he talked bout critics at the end of his concert.