The show concluded with new single 'All Day' – played twice
Kanye West last night (March 3) welcomed a host of guests on stage, debuted a brand new track with Vic Mensa and performed new single ‘All Day’ twice at a last-minute gig at London’s Koko.
The Chicago rapper employed London grime MCs including Skepta, JME, Meridian Dan and Novelist plus US rappers including Big Sean and Raekwon of the Wu Tang Clan for his headline show.
Announced shortly after 7pm, the venue’s doors were supposed to open at 11pm, though in reality most were permitted after midnight. Tickets had been sold at £49.50 each and were limited to two per customer.
West finally emerged on stage at around 1am, by which time the crowd was becoming restless. Soon after he appeared flanked by fellow MCs, it became clear that this was a show in which he was to share the limelight, echoing his performance at last week’s Brit Awards.
The setlist blended his co-MCs’ tracks with West’s own, and began with a version of Skepta and JME’s ‘That’s Not Me’, for which the British MC took lead vocals. US rapper Big Sean then joined Kanye for ‘Mercy’ from the ‘Cruel Summer’ compilation, and Kanye’s first solo moment came with ‘Cold’, introduced with a thumping sample of Foreigner’s ‘Cold As Ice’.
Later, ‘Blessings’ saw West on his knees and waving his hands in the air as Big Sean rapped.
West’s last full set in the capital was at Wireless on July 4 2014. On that occasion, he drew criticism for ranting at the audience rather than focusing on the music. At Koko, a favoured venue for Prince’s impromptu gigs in 2014, West let the music do the talking, not speaking directly to the crowd throughout the 90 minute performance except to initiate a circle pit during ‘Blood On The Leaves’.
West was, however, in crowd-pleasing form. ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ saw him adopting a crucifixion pose with arms outstretched, something he later repeated during ‘Jesus Walks’, which he partly performed on his knees. Before playing the latter, West turned to face the projected backdrop, which displayed medieval style religious imagery, and barked instructions at his technician, shouting “next” to each consecutive image until a picture of Jesus on the cross appeared. Similarly, he later instructed his lighting technician to use “only strobe” during ‘Black Skinhead’.
West was a dynamic presence on stage, dancing, crouching and bouncing and spraying water on the front rows during a version of Drake’s ‘All Me’.
Wu Tang Clan member Raekwon was a surprise addition to the assembled crew – many of whom had performed solo during the show – when he appeared to guest on Wu Tang track ‘C.R.E.A.M.’.
A brand new track, ‘U Mad’, with Vic Mensa, was aired for the first time, presumably another taster of West’s forthcoming album, titled ‘So Help Me God’. The previously revealed ‘Wolves’ was also performed, and one new album track was given the star treatment – the recently released ‘All Day’ was played twice, consecutively, by the whole crew, to end the show.
West has been in the UK since last week’s Brit Awards, at which he debuted the new single, and has appeared at venues including Oxford University, Central St Martins and an Adidas store, where he handed out pairs of his newly launched Yeezy Boost shoes. West sported a pair of the £275 trainers on stage at Koko. It was also revealed earlier today that West has been in the studio with Skepta.
Kanye West played:
‘That’s Not Me’
‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’
‘I Don’t Fuck With You’
‘All Of The Lights’
‘It Ain’t Safe’
‘Blood On The Leaves’