KANYE WEST, Hammersmith Apollo – Evening Standard, 25 Feb 2013


Playing short-notice gigs in London and Paris as he tours the Fashion Weeks, Kanye West’s personal catwalk was wider and sloped at a precarious angle. His look? Angelic white straitjacket, straps flapping, with occasional feather and diamond facemask accessories.

On his second of three nights in London he wasn’t quite so unhinged, expunging the previous show’s rant against Justin Timberlake and the Grammys. “Yesterday I wasn’t feeling so good but I got some s**t off my chest, so now I’m feeling good tonight,” he announced during Clique, a dark, minimal track from his recent compilation of guest artists, Cruel Summer.

Otherwise it was a greatest hits set, delivered in a more low-key fashion than last year’s monumental arena tour with Jay-Z but still so visually arresting that it won’t be forgotten in a hurry. One minute fake snow filled the theatre, the next he was a lonely polar bear surrounded by glaciers.

The setting relied too much on West’s admittedly significant charisma. He stood alone, with no sparring secondary rapper. Audience interaction was also minimal, with no farewell after a disappointingly brief blast of Touch the Sky as an encore.

Ever the perfectionist, he sent a roadie scurrying away for trying to remove the feathered mask he had placed on his microphone stand like a head on a spike. Then he restarted All of the Lights, demanding a greater crowd response.

With no proper new album to promote, it seemed odd that he was here at all. As a small reminder that there’s no one else like him in hip hop, it worked.