Friday, September 16, 2016

We on a Ultralight Beam - Kanye - Verizon Center - September 8

We on a ultralight beam
This is a god dream
This is everything

Ultralight beams..

A photo posted by Ben (@lonesomeace) on

Words. It's been a week and I still have the words rolling around in my head. The sound. The sheer vibrating presence. The energy.

I saw the Yeezus tour with Ben E. in November 2013 - tucked in the very top row of a deep distant corner of the Verizon Center. It was like watching a play through a telescope. But oh those songs. The way that album cut through as I wandered those Paris streets that summer of 2013. It always takes me back to soft rain and wide boulevards and a sort of visceral liminality. And what I most remember from that show were the rants - 10-15 minutes at a time. About shoes. About his genius. And how they threw off the rhythm of the music.

Now a little under two years later I was back. Spur-of-the-moment stubhub ticket and this time I was towards the bottom of the 400 level. I got there early and let the energy build. Bought a t-shirt. The place slowly filled up, and promptly at 9:30p, the lights went down and he was there. Floating above the crowd on the floor on a small industrial rusted metal stage the color of Richard Serra steel. And as I looked closer,I finally noticed there was a wire bolted to the center of his stage that attached to the back of his shirt. He was tethered. Floating. Pacing. Sometimes leaning out over the edge - straining. Reaching.

The songs were mostly Pablo throughout - but particularly at the beginning. That great verse from Schoolboy Q's That Part. Some old hits - Mercy, Tell Me Nothing. And then he hit Power. And after the first verse stopped short. Cut the music. And talked, earnestly, about how much the words of the song meant to him - right now, in this moment. How he needed to hear this song. How it was for him. And when he launched in again, it was pure energy. The crowd feeding it back to him. Then a killer Blood on the Leaves - the heart of Yeezus, that hook - floating.

The sound was fuzzy at first, but quickly got better. And to be in a huge venue, with everyone in the whole place knowing every word to each song, was simply exhilarating. He was there, real, present. Trapped on his floating island. The kids moshing below him. In control and controlled. Fighting to be free.

Towards the end he sang Only One - that ballad to his daughter he did with McCartney and Rhianna. And stopped again. And talked about how the song was actually written when he thought about his mom singing to him. From heaven. Which led to a beautiful ramble about color and heaven and his mother and life...

And he then finished with a run of hits that had us all dancing in aisles - Gold Digger- Touch the Sky- All of the Lights - Good Life - Stronger. By the end, as the choir in Ultralight Beam soared, the stage floated away - Kanye disappearing in a beam of light. And I was almost in tears. Moved. Touched. Transported. In a way I haven't been by a show in a very, very long time..

Up next - Jenny Lewis @ Lincoln on Sunday night; Okkervil River @ 9:30 Club on Monday. Sturgill in early October at DAR. Good times. Indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment