Kanye West at Glastonbury 2015: Yeezy gives a daringly confident performance - review

There's no mistaking that this set is all about one man, one brand

Emily Jupp
Sunday 28 June 2015 14:43
Kanye West headlines the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival
Kanye West headlines the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival

There's far more excitement over Kanye West's set than Pharell's preceding joyless roll through his greatest hits on the same stage. Despite an online poll protesting Yeezy's Glastonbury headline slot, the crowd at the Pyramid stage go wild for his swaggering set filled with heavy bass, blinding lights and anthemic tunes.

It's a daringly confident performance, with no backing singers and the band - if there is one - is hidden, there's no mistaking that this is all about one man, one brand. The stage regularly goes dark between songs, as though each tune is a self-contained piece of micro-theatre. At one point it's all black and silent for 30 seconds, before Kanye rises up again under the grid of lights filling the roof of the stage, as "Cold as Ice" plays in the background.

His performance flits between high octane rap extravaganzas to light and fluffy pop like Rhianna collaboration "Four Five seconds" and a synthetically warped "Drive Slow" - and the tunes do slow down, a lot - before a stirring version of "No Church in the Wild", featuring only his vocals and stripped-down instrumentation. The crowd are getting restless as he rips through truncated versions of slow B-sides in an overly long lull, before he throws himself with conviction into his best-known hits.

An added edge of jeopardy comes from the fact we're all hoping he won't launch into one of his famous speeches/tantrums, which can quickly turn a five star gig into something resembling a cross between a church service and a university lecture.

Thankfully we're spared from Mr West's views on fashion, the music industry and his wife's body, but he plays on his own reputation for off-script diversions when he appears to cut the set to angered booing, and then reappears on a crane above the stage for "Touch the Sky". When he returns safely to the stage for a bizarrely beautiful rendition of the intro of Queen's "Bohemian Rhopsody," the crowd are all firmly back on his side.

He finishes up the night with an extended version of "as long as I get my money right" with choral backing and a smoke and mirrors disappearing act before a finale of "Gold Digger" and "All Falls Down"

He reins in his parting shot to the crowd with the modest shout out to himself: "You are watching the greatest f***ing rock star on the planet"

Few people could pull off performing on such a sparsely designed set for an hour and 45 minutes, but Yeesus and his unshakable confidence in his own talents just about manages it. Kanye, Imma let you have this one.

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