Review: Kanye West smashes his Sydney Big Day Out sideshow
Kanye West's Big Day Out sideshow
Sydney Entertainment Centre - Friday January 27
Review by Claire Ward
Kanye’s been touring this gig for a couple of years now - but hey, if you put that much into a production, you would tour the sh*t out of it, right? When it comes to this production, yes, because it's one mother of a concert.
Bucking the trend when it comes to hip hop shows that notoriously fail to meet the mark, Kanye’s spectacle rolls out a lavish stage, 20 or more ballerinas, costume changes, pyrotechnics, three acts, smoke machines and a scissor lift in a pear tree.
This was the same show that he blasted out at Splendour in the Grass last year, after which friends of mine said they thought he “over-performed”. I couldn’t understand. I was like, ‘I’m sorry could you explain that to me - he performed too much? Your quota of amazing was exceeded? You got TOO MUCH value for money?” Pffft.
So I went in to his Big Day Out sideshow at the Entertainment Centre curious to see what I missed last time.
He greets us from a towering cherry picker contraption cloaked in smoke, and launches into "Dark Fantasy". By the time we get through "Power" and he launches into "Jesus Walks", he’s up on stage, but there’s something a bit contained about the man. I can’t work it out, is he tired? Is he sick of this tour? Is he saving himself?
We roll through a couple more hits from the last two albums, including "Hell of a Life" which he calls to a halt until someone fixes something with the lights that he doesn’t like. He really doesn’t seem that happy; which kind of sucks because everyone in the room is bloody stoked to be there.
We launch into Act 2 and things start to turn around. Like a test he belts out "All Falls Down" (from his debut album), and the crowd goes nuts. There are a sea of hands with diamonds in the sky and I see him smile for the very first time, it’s as though he’s relieved that he’s in good company, he’s realised we love him from before he was gossip.
Good turns to great, and before we know it, he’s singing "Touch the Sky" AND RUNNING THROUGH THE CROWD INCLUDING AN ENTIRE LAP OF THE STADIUM. I’m pretty sure I saw one girl’s brain explode. It was amazing.
"Gold Digger" obviously brings the house down and before I can wonder what’s left for an encore, and we’re into Act 3.
Act 3 turns out to be one really long dramatic version of "Runaway" mashed into "Up in the World", with the ballerinas back to bring the show to a close. It all tails off into just Kanye, his MPC soundboard and one dancer. Then sh*t kind of gets real. The lyrics go from “Toast for the *ssh*oles” to “THE *SSH*OLE DESERVES TO BE LONELY” and you realise that the tortured ballerina crumpling across the stage doesn’t represent his ex, it’s his tortured soul. God, you just want to hug the guy. He really hates that he lost the girl.
By the time the show comes to an end though, Kanye’s diatribe moves into motivational territory and we’re told “Set your goals as high as possible / nobody but you is stopping you....I said I was going to do it and I did it...No textbook, no Wikipedia, believe in yourself”
It’s a bit indulgent, but the guy just bared his soul, so we’re going with it.
And that’s the answer. It’s impossible to over perform when you’re delivering that level of awesome. Just when you think he’s ego is going to tip you over the edge, he gives you that little bit more and you’re back.
It’s just like that old conundrum: Can God make a burrito so hot that even he can't eat it?
It is exactly like that.
Bonus highlight? Tyler the Creator having the time of his life down the front. Check the video:
"Can’t Tell Me Nothing"
"Hell of a Life"
"Say You Will"
"Run This Town"
"All Falls Down"
"We Will Rock You Intro"
"E.T. (Katy Perry)"
"Touch the Sky"
"All of the Lights"
Chariots of Fire Intro
"Lost in the World"
Photo: Getty/ Getty Images Entertainment/ Chris Hyde