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Concert Review: Kanye West at Joe Louis Arena

kanye west in Detroit

by Justin Trudell

Kanye has been on the scene, and slowly losing his mind, for more than a decade and I’ve spent most of that time fighting with countless people about his brilliance.

“Just listen to his music…yes I know he’s a complete asshole, but his music is incredible…I saw the Taylor Swift thing, that was rough…Yeah, that interview was bizarre… I don’t know why he married Kim… I saw his Twitter rant…but…his music?”

Even with my flag firmly planted in Camp Kanye, I was having trouble defending the “good” outweighing the “bad” lately. Wednesday night in Detroit proved why he’s still worth following, even if he’s completely insane.

Kanye’s stage floats above the crowd for the duration of the show, this isn’t new to me, but seeing it live was still incredible and unique. It slowly moves around so every person, both below him and in the surround seats, gets a changing perspective of the show. The people underneath move with it, opening up gaps on the floor, which are quickly filled by a dancing/moshing hybrid of rabid Kanye campers.

Along with the stage itself, the lighting was unique. Smoke machines had filled the entire stadium with a haze to better project the “light beams” coming from below the stage, above the stage, and all of our cell phone lights. The haze created an ultra intimate and immersive experience, a rare thing at an arena show.

Cloaked behind the haze, Kanye West operated with the controlled chaos we expect. Slowly building with an intense verse of bravado, only to explode with a fierce release of anger like a volcano that’s reached eruption. Mixes of shouting, jumping and dance moves were on display from Yeezy himself, but spread to everyone in the building. The energy that originated with Kanye created an aftershock felt in the stands.

There were a few standout moments, first coming during “Famous.” The crowd became exceptionally vocal singing along to the track aimed to call out the aforementioned incident with Taylor Swift. It was almost uncomfortable hearing the venom of thousands of fans screaming “I made that bitch famous.” As though Kanye West had forced us to make a decision as whether we were fans of him or Ms. Swift. Apparently it can’t be both.

THE moment of the night came during “Heartless,” as the stage tilted toward one side of the arena and Kanye locked eyes with half of the crowd. The beat disappeared, but the chorus continued by way of everyone singing at the top of their lungs. Kanye West was like a conductor of an orchestra, he began the line with “In the night, I hear ‘em talk…” followed by the crowd screaming the rest: “…The coldest story ever told! Somewhere far along this road he lost his soul…to a woman so HEARTLESS!” Kanye decided he was ready for the next song and a silence fell over the crowd for a few seconds. The next note we heard was the opening piano riff to “Runaway,” and we fucking lost it.

“To a woman so #heartless” #kanyewest #saintpablotour #runaway #yeezy

A video posted by How Was It Detroit (@howwasitdetroit) on

This was beyond a concert, more like a religious gathering. A few tears were being shed, hands were in the air praising the moment, and everyone had a permanent smile. The show was emotionally and spiritually fulfilling in so many ways.

Kanye West deserves everything he gets, both good and bad, because he’s earned it. He says and does some of the most selfish and childish things in real life. But, it’s different musically. For every stupid tweet, for every ignorant comment, for every embarrassing moment, Kanye continues to push the envelope in the stadiums and in the studio. He justifies his madness with an ultra-unique and creative concert experience. It makes it all worth it, and it’s the reason I’m still in Camp Kanye.

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