Review: Kanye West startles, appalls at Barclays

-ALLCOUNTRY

Splash News

The superstar’s “Yeezus” features a Jesus actor that makes way for the “Jesus Walks” track on his new CD.

Kanye West strode onto the stage of the Barclays Center Tuesday like a gladiator, his face shrouded by a mask laden with jewels and gold.

At the first of four New York-area shows, the star moved with menace. He yielded his soldierly stance only in one dramatic moment, stopping to spread his arms in wide surrender while gazing toward a blinding white light emanating from the arena ceiling.

The "Yeezus" tour is an extravagant production feauring an imposing glacier-like structure and LED lightshow.

The “Yeezus” tour is an extravagant production feauring an imposing glacier-like structure and LED lightshow.

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Was heaven beckoning?

Kanye West really plays up the religious provocations during his "Yeezus" show.

Christopher Polk

Kanye West really plays up the religious provocations during his “Yeezus” show.

West may think so, given the fact that the show promotes a CD named “Yeezus.” The disc also includes a song that finds him declaring “I Am A God.” At one point during the show, he even has a close encounter with an actor playing, yes, Jesus.

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The bizarre mask over Kanye's face adds to the industrial fusion he has injected on "Yeezus."

The bizarre mask over Kanye’s face adds to the industrial fusion he has injected on “Yeezus.”

West’s spooky stage mask could have a messianic mission, too. It presents the star as a force too awesome to have anything as ordinary as a human face.

If nothing else, Mr. Awesome certainly didn’t deliver an average hip-hop show. The tour, like everything out of Kanye West-world, seems devised to either startle or appall. The show did both — but in ways that thrilled.

In Seattle, Kanye West took the stage atop a dozen models, bathed in lasers and lights.

Splash News

In Seattle, Kanye West took the stage atop a dozen models, bathed in lasers and lights.

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West featured eight of the 10 songs from his slam-dunk “Yeezus” CD. He opened with “On Sight,” a brilliant seesaw of synth lines that needle and whine over a futuristic rock beat. “How much do I not give a f—,” begins its in-your-face chorus.

Though his "Yeezus" tour seems to be back on track, Kanye West's latest musical venture has had some fits and starts with several cancellations and postponements.

Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Though his “Yeezus” tour seems to be back on track, Kanye West’s latest musical venture has had some fits and starts with several cancellations and postponements.

Like most cuts on the CD, the song translates ’90s industrial music into hip-hop language, using synths and beats with the mania and edge of electric guitars. While the show also featured older, less strident and funkier hits, its core soared on the cold and the confrontational.

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Kanye's fiancée Kim Kardashian was right on the heels of her baby daddy Tuesday, drawing plenty of attention of her own.

Wagner AZ/AKM-GSI

Kanye’s fiancée Kim Kardashian was right on the heels of her baby daddy Tuesday, drawing plenty of attention of her own.

The impeccably staged show centered on an imposing glacier-like structure beneath a roiling LED screen. Dancing women appeared on the mountainous facade, arranged with an architectural stiffness and purpose. In one notable moment, the glacier split, allowing the dancers to march through with candles incense and a statue of the Virgin Mary. Later, the actor portraying Jesus blessed the star, who knelt before him and finally took off his mask before going into — what else? — “Jesus Walks.”

It was all very Madonna, from its religious provocation to its sketchy meaning. But the show’s narrative mattered less than the music’s intensity. West delivered fresh songs like “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead” with the brutality they deserve.

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In “I Am A God,” he turned a series of primal screams into an electrifying rhythm, while his dancers hoisted him aloft like a soul tortured, or anointed.

The show wasn’t without softer moments. West performed the yearning “Coldest Winter,” and hits like “Through the Wire” gave the night a pop connection.

But, at its core, the show wasn’t about crowd-pleasing. It was about unyielding beats, hellish textures and a brusque flow, all delivered with an impact every bit as stunning as West’s ego itself.

jfarber@nydailynews.com


Music & Arts – NY Daily News

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