but seriously, who’s watching the throne.
kanye west and jay-z, watch the throne tour @ the united center, thursday, 12/1. i don’t review shows anymore, so here are just some thoughts.
nosebleed seats at $123 a pop — my most expensive ticket ever — featured an excellent view within the section, but still. i can’t imagine what the floor seats cost, and i wonder who the target audience is. the 1%? corporations and timeshares? are these guys performing for their fans, the 1% of their fans? this tour is raking in more than $1 mm a night apparently.
too much as been written about kanye’s megalomania, so i have few additional comments. he is 100% batshit crazy, and i’m happy i had the chance to once again affirm i guess. he is getting nuttier more years and more $$$, but that’s obviously feeding into his ability as an artist and performer so i kind of love it. all of it, self-aggrandizing and all. the one letdown was the painful conclusion that mr. west is clearly a studio artist. his songs are super-produced, arguably overproduced, with layers and layers of instruments and guest vocals that don’t translate well without live backing during a live show. the epic, headphone-worthy, “all of the lights” (and really everything off my dark twisted fantasy) came across much flatter than i had hoped. see exhibits below.
“all of the lights” recorded:
live in chi (thanks, whoever posted this so quickly):
throughout the show, the giant monitors caught kanye or jay-z candidly, “at rest”, while the other was performing. king kanye looked alternately like, “i am gonna stab you with scissors” or “these leatherette tights that chicks wear are so hot! i mean, they look hot, but also they don’t breathe! must stop sweating. but my manager told me this is what it takes to win grammys. my self worth is 100% dependent on grammys! GRAMMY GRAMMY GRAMMY! i love grammys, not people!”
best part of the candid shots had to be catching jay-z occasionally smiling. juxtaposed with crazy kanye, he otherwise comes across as something of a stoic. is he bored? is he into it? is he over it? is he ashamed of the fact that he is wearing a short-sleeved leather hoodie? is it made with the excess fabric from kanye’s kilt? is he upset that kanye made him do a costume change so that kanye’s fourth outfit didn’t seem like too much?
jay-z, on all of that, just comes across as calm, controlled, possibly even calculating. hard to tell. i find jay-z fascinating, and it stems partly from the fact that he is relatively unattractive, yet has had a wild amount of success through a variety of sounds and styles. seriously. the ugly factor has proven a decent a lagging indicator of actual talent in the entertainment industry, right? steve buscemi? thom yorke? to make it to the top and stay there, you’re either beautiful, talented, or on occasion, you’re both. he proved impressive at the show, and i wish i could have seen more. kanye dominated the setlist at probably 65% of the split (understandable, given this is his hometown), but i saw enough, for as always after a good show, i ran home and bought new tunes. so mr. “i’m not a businessman, i’m a business, man” smiling here and there was kinda nice, a relief, suggesting he maybe wanted to be up there for two and a half hours even if he weren’t pocketing a cool million in revenue to do so.
jay-z – public service announcement
that’s the other thing: 2.5 hours. without a break or a lull really, 2.5 hours of performing deserves some real props. 2.5 hours of keeping most of the crowd moving and engaged is not easy and made it clear these gentlemen are hit machines. impressive stamina too. i haven’t heard that long a performance since the cure (circa 1999? i’m old). granted it was back-and-forth between the two artists throughout, but it was still well thought-out and executed. except for the end.
the good thing about having seeing night2 when a big tour does two nights in a city? reviews of night1 up already, complete with setlist. some people don’t like spoilers, but i don’t mind them. if it’s a good show, i unfailingly become so captivated by the show / film that i forget the spoiler. i will go into titanic knowing the ship sinks, but i’ll forget you told me that once the film’s on. um not a great example — i was waiting for that damn sink to ship for approximately two hours.
on the other hand, if the show lags in any way, my mind will wander and it will wander to the spoiler alert. and worse, now in the age of smartphones, i will call up the setlist to see precisely what’s coming. in this instance, the advance setlist helped me out not once, but twice.
- headsup that ‘ye & z hit the stage would hit the stage more than two hours after the stated start time. poor fools who didn’t cheat by reading the review.
- headsup on what the encore would be, key to timing my exit. the chicago tribune reported the encore would be:
40. N— in Paris
41. N— in Paris
42. N— in Paris
43. N— in Paris
44. N— in Paris
45. N— in Paris
46. N— in Paris
47. N— in Paris
yes, you read that correctly. EIGHT TIMES. it’s not even a good song. i lasted until drill #7. yet as DW pointed out, amazingly most of the crowd was still into it then. DH asked me at some point during the show, “do you think [kanye and jay-z] are the type of artists who perform high or totally drunk?” and i think i replied, “to play that encore eight times? night after night? they have to be.”
but on second thought, i don’t know that that they were…instead, the crowd may have been.
and just because it never gets old: crystal castle reviews k.west