Kanye West | 4.19.08 | HP Pavilion

By: Alex Proctor

Kanye West :: 04.19.08 :: HP Pavilion :: San Jose, CA

Kanye West
As the crowd entered the HP Pavilion in San Jose for the sold-out third stop of Kanye West's "Glow in the Dark Tour," greeters handed out copies of the hip-hop mogul's new book, Thank You and You're Welcome, essentially the wit and wisdom of Mr. West. A little ridiculous for a pop star to be handing out pearls of wisdom, you say? Especially when it's full of gems like, "I'm often seen as complaining in situations when I lose. I see it more as an explanation of why I should have won." Er, fair enough. I guess.

What ye fails to deliver in life lessons, though, he more than makes up for in ambition, and the "Glow in the Dark Tour" is one of the most ambitious concert productions in the history of hip-hop. Before his set began, the entire stage was hidden behind black curtains. When the curtains fell, a screen full of stars and a mysterious alien landscape announced the interstellar direction the night would take as a computer named Jane guided a marooned Kanye as he struggled to get his crash-landed spaceship working again.

Almost like musical theater (a space hip hopera?), the plot driven show followed a fairly tight storyline. West, wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and something that looked like the Nintendo PowerGlove, rapped from a Daft Punk lit platform raised above the smoke enshrouded planetary set. Between alien visitations, pyrotechnics and attempts at liftoff dramatized by more smoke and rushing stars, what looked to be a nine-piece band played Kanye's re-orchestrated hits from the darkness below the stage. No huge changes to the radio-friendly material; more T-Pain style vocoder here, more soaring orchestral sound there. And in spite of the necessity to stay within the confines of the narrative, none of the song choices seemed forced or unnatural. Kanye's performance ranged from the raw emotion of "Hey Mama," during which he appeared to be genuinely choked up, to the self-aggrandizing "Champion," but aside from occasional musical greatness and sheer spectacle, some of the most enjoyable moments of the night came in the form of self-commentary.

Speaking to disembodied HAL 9000 soundalike, Jane, the only "person" to have the privilege to share the stage with K Dubya, West promised to "stop spazzing out at award shows," an acknowledgement of his previous outbursts at two separate MTV events. Jane, seeming to take on the role of an audible version of Kanye's inner monologue, told him not once but twice, "You're the brightest star in the universe," a mantra it's all too easy to imagine Kanyeezy repeating to himself in the mirror, a la Dirk Diggler.

Before Kanye's mothership made its emergency landing, however, those in attendance were treated to three high-profile opening acts. Lupe Fiasco's excellent, high energy set culled from cuts off of his (slightly) slept-on 2007 release, The Cool, had hip-hop fans in the know were bobbing their heads and throwing their hands in the air as the Kanye West protégé blended intelligent rhymes and space-age beats into something entirely new. He was followed by N.E.R.D., Pharell's and Chad Hugo's (The Neptunes) live band incarnation, who unfortunately couldn't match the young Chicagoan's energy or skill. Pharell may be a wizard in the studio, but the only interesting part of their performance was "Everyone Nose," the first single off of the soon to be released Seeing Sounds, a cautionary tale of starlets and cocaine that borrows the guitar and bass lines from The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army." In spite of also playing hits from their back catalog, like "Brain" and "Run to the Sun," the rest of the time N.E.R.D. sounded like any bad rap-metal act out there.

The surprise of the night, though, had to be Rihanna and her Ziploc-tight, uber-professional backing band. Her bass player was downright nasty, alternating between big, funky grooves, double-slap solos and melodic turns high on the fretboard, and Rihanna herself was outstanding. She looked beautiful, danced and went through wardrobe changes like a seasoned pop star, and her voice was impeccable. Unfortunately, her set, as well as the other artists', only lasted for 30 minutes. She could have played twice as long.

All told, the "Glow in the Dark Tour" amounts to a very impressive stage production, but hip-hop's favorite egomaniac might have overhyped a few specific aspects. The lighting, pyrotechnics and set were all spectacular, but puppets and holograms? The only puppet that made an appearance looked like little more than a skinny mannequin with a purple wig and glowing eyes, and the hologram girls were just projected on a screen. Nonetheless, if Kanye brings this stage production with him to Bonnaroo, it's almost impossible to believe that they would give him anything other than a late-night slot – and it's equally impossible to believe he wouldn't blow minds. Critiques aside, this is almost undoubtedly the most sophisticated set design ever in the hip-hop world, and one of the most elaborate in the history of rock as well. With the tour's cosmic scale, West has created something truly unique and special, an arena large enough to showcase not only what makes him great, but also, for better or for worse, his flaws.

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[Published on: 5/1/08]

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foadser star Thu 5/1/2008 12:03PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Dear God... Why?

1radioheader star Thu 5/1/2008 12:15PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Robusto Thu 5/1/2008 12:18PM
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Just . . . don't . . . get . . . the hype. Over-rated (him). Perplexed (me).

Robusto Thu 5/1/2008 12:19PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
jennydeluxe starstarstarstarstar Thu 5/1/2008 12:42PM
+7 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Good review -- Eh, I'm not a huge West fan either, but his summer tour is def one of the biggest live shows this year. And he'd gonna be at the 'roo. So it's good to hear what's in store....

boxofrain Thu 5/1/2008 12:47PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Astronaut Jones Thu 5/1/2008 12:56PM
+9 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Astronaut Jones

boy what i wouldn't give to see a couple of wardrobe changes in a jamband concert... like maybe Susan Tedeschi changing from whatever she has on to...nothing maybe.

ndant703 Thu 5/1/2008 01:04PM
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ahh yawn...back to sleep. JB - Next time please dont wake me up with some stuff from this guy, I turned off MTV 15 years ago!

bill s. preston starstarstarstar Thu 5/1/2008 01:13PM
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great review. Thank god not every review here is about the next new monsoon railroad earthbird love your mother stroke a squirrel off hippy band. Nice to have some diversity.

well written too, which is a nice change of pace. Solid hyperlinking - especially to Dirk Diggler and the power glove.

Looks like a great show, I'd see it.

Muffinman1 Thu 5/1/2008 01:31PM
+13 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I am all for diversity, hip hop, metal, anything, but it is this particular person that i do not care for. Fuck Kanye West, he blows, he's egotistical, and not that talented. I understand his stage production might be tight, but so is the Flaming Lips if you know what I mean. I love Lips shows, but the CD's suck. Rihanna looks SMOKIN' HOT in that picture by the way. Well written article by the way.

bill s. preston Thu 5/1/2008 01:33PM
Show -10 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Lenox star Thu 5/1/2008 01:49PM
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you know i still have yet to understand why this guy became famous in the first place. i mean he has SOME catchy songs, but those are just songs with the music written by other artists and his egotistical lyrics put over it. still havent figured out where he gets his ego from, its quite possibly the biggest ego in the music industry today (minus prince). im waiting for someone to explain to me the appeal of hearing music written solely as an outlet to tell the world how great you are.

FreeHawk Thu 5/1/2008 02:08PM
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Kanye West hates white people.

makkswel Thu 5/1/2008 02:44PM
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is he really playing allgood with lettuce?

1radioheader Thu 5/1/2008 03:11PM
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TSPeer. . . . . . my buddy is taking some time off from the army and is coming in next week for a visit and trips to Charlotte and ATlanta, wanted to do the DC show but the budget doesn't match the desire, so just the south Radiohead shall we see

jamrad starstarstar Thu 5/1/2008 04:30PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Kanye is the shit when he comes to beats. His lyrics maybe self serving but he will go down as a true original in the hip-hop world. I dig Kanye and i hope he makes a shitload of music for years to come.

sk8er4ever0101 star Thu 5/1/2008 04:43PM
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Ok, i never bash on any bands, and i wont now.....But holy shit this is pushing it....

Sizlunt Thu 5/1/2008 05:07PM
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I never bash bands ever. But here is what I have to say this. Fuck you Kanye, you are a moron who I am surprised has the mental capacity to speak, much less rap. Second, fuck you jambase for putting this up.

stoops Thu 5/1/2008 05:24PM
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nice glasses, bitch!

okfunkjunkie starstarstar Thu 5/1/2008 06:09PM
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Where the hell are all the pictures of the dope as glow in the dark shiz?

Robusto Thu 5/1/2008 08:12PM
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1radioheader > Sweet. Enjoy ATL and Charlotte. I've got a bunch of friends joining you in ATL (that's where I'm og from). I know what you mean about budget. I got presale tickets for West Palm and Tampa. Two for each venue = $300! Whoa. That's a lot of bread. Have fun man!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstar Fri 5/2/2008 03:09AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

enjoy his smokin set at bonnaroo kidz :P

okfunkjunkie starstarstarstar Fri 5/2/2008 06:27AM
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Now I am not a Kanye fan by any means, but did you see his performance with Daft Punk on the Grammys? The shit was super hot! If you don't like him then don't even read the article, plus that will save you from looking like a bunch of closeminded assholes.

Bill Clifford star Fri 5/2/2008 06:49AM
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KC, I gotta say, Alt Country is one thing (Reckless Kelly), but mainstream Hip Hop is really stretching it. I am all for diversity and expanding your readership, but this just doesn't belong on Jambase, IMO.

GeorgieP star Fri 5/2/2008 07:28AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I've got nothing against JamBase covering mainstream acts if they're good. After all, artists become mainstream when a ton of people like them...nothing wrong with that. The problem I see here is that Kanye West is a huge douche and a pretty lousy rapper. Good producer, but his lyrics are weak and teeming with arrogance. If I had a 4-yr old sister, this is where I'd say that my 4-yr old sister could come up with better rhyming patterns and double entendres than Kanye Worst. Now, Lupe, on the other hand, is dope as hell and I would be all about any and every article written about him.

NRSingh starstarstarstarstar Fri 5/2/2008 07:47AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Bill Clifford hates black people.

mickrod420 star Fri 5/2/2008 07:52AM
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get this shit off jambase

cuttyfives Fri 5/2/2008 05:25PM
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first, those blades are dope. where can i cop them? Second, how can you like Lupe and not Kanye. Third, Chicago owns all city. 4th, anyone who rips/hates on Kayne can suck my balls.

bassdrum200 star Fri 5/2/2008 09:53PM
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apparently the glasses were a graduation gift????WHYJAMBASE??????

tgratefulapple Sat 5/3/2008 11:02PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


ill read what they have to say on this show on jambands.com to get a different outlook( sike)....

boxofrain Sat 5/3/2008 11:59PM
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Get em CuttyFives!!!!!! VA!!!!!!!

Jimmy P starstarstar Sun 5/4/2008 07:57AM
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Jimmy P

im not a kanye west fan, but i remember he had sum cool songs on his first cd. something about drug dealin jus to get by, stack ya money till it gets sky hiiigh...and for people who forgot..his song through the wire...he recorded while his jaw was wired shit after he almost died in a car accident. ill give him some respect for that

greens&beans starstarstar Sun 5/4/2008 09:38AM
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hey guys - why do we have to swear to get make a point? and for those who are bashing jambase for putting this on the site - YOU need to 'get real' because when it comes to music and tastes it's different strokes for diff folks and you have to respect that. if you don't like Kanye, don't buy his stuff. don't read articles about his stuff - unless you enjoy pushing your own buttons (and if that's the case then that's on YOU). but don't blame jambase for putting it on (their) site. your fav bands might not be mine but does that mean that I enjoy music more than you or even give me more leverage to become a critic? grow up people - life is too short to instigate static. have an open mind and be thankful that we all can enjoy a site like Jambase so we can keep up with our own favs...and learn a little bit about yours.

n-1 starstarstarstarstar Sun 5/4/2008 11:31AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I accidently downloaded every kanye west song via torrent, now I like him, The beats are all really creative remixed soul and funk songs

mweezy777 Sun 5/4/2008 02:30PM
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FIRST OFF...Cuttyfives is probably Kanye West. Second off all, Lupe runs circles on Kanye in terms of talent (and i dont care who sells the most records) Third, if Kanye would keep his mouth shut about his egotistical opinions and stick to music then i might be able to listen to his stuff, actually probably not b/c its pop garbage. He has enough idiotic quotes to fill a book.....But as far as the review goes, its was good just wish i could have seen some pics of this amazing set.

CSchneids929 starstarstarstar Wed 5/14/2008 11:03AM
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nasty set design, really made you felt like your were on a mystical journy. it was a cool show and i woodent be surprised to see other big name artists use lighting the way kanye did with the ocean like wave sequences on the side stage rather then traditional lights. rihanaa stunk btw. she is horrible and i cant believe she actually performed at MSG last night. N.E.R.D. was enh at best and i missed lupe but he was real nice when he came out for "touch the sky". fun show but way too pricey i would rather pay 50-60 just for kanye then to sit through lupe, nerd, and rihanna for 100