I can’t fully describe what exactly happened at the Schottenstein Center on Sunday night, but I can tell you it was the greatest concert of my life.
Kanye West’s Saint Pablo Tour, made up solely of Kanye and no openers, was a roughly hour-and-a-half god dream of a show.
The main headline grabber of the tour from its start in August was the fact Kanye was not going to be on a grounded stage. Instead, he would be on a floating stage above the general admission floor. The stage resembles a spaceship with glowing lights beneath it. At first, this set-up seems like it would be isolating, with Kanye seemingly so above and separated from everyone. How could that possibly be enjoyable for those who pay for top-dollar floor seats?
Answer: very enjoyable.
As Kanye and his stage floated back and forth across the floor, fans ran chasing his lightbeam. When the stage would hold steady in one spot, the entire lit-up space beneath it became a dancefloor with fans throwing themselves into the force Kanye had created.
Starting at least an hour before the show, smoke was pumped into the arena as instrumental synth music played. The haziness of the smoke allowed the colored lights — usually warm yellows, oranges and reds like a sunset — to fully enrapture the space. Coupled with the heavy bass of his songs, it was a full sensory experience. You could feel sound and see the light. You could transcend.
The setlist was made up of songs spanning Kanye’s career. He opened with both parts of “Father Stretch My Hands” and closed with “Ultralight Beam,” two cornerstones of “The Life of Pablo,” the rapper’s seventh album, which the tour is in support of. Kanye also played classics including “Heartless,” “Black Skinhead” and “Touch the Sky.” These songs turned the entire floor, whether touched by Kanye’s light or not, into one heaving body of dancers. Snippets of Desiigner’s “Panda” and the GOOD Music collaboration hit, “Mercy,” also amped up the crowd. Another favorite was when Kanye performed “Freestyle Pt. 4,” completely throwing himself into the chorus.
Kanye’s set Sunday also included slower, reflective moments, most notably the inclusion of “Only One,” a song featuring Paul McCartney and told from the perspective of Kanye’s late mother, Donda West.
Kanye used his literal platform to also deliver a sort of sermon.
“A hundred years from now none of us will be here, but they will remember this night,” he told the crowd. “This is history in the making, this is humanity. This is every race, every age, gender. This is everything.”
Despite the lights, smoke and prophetic musings, the focus of the show wasn’t Kanye. Kanye himself was hard to even see on his throne, lit from below. But the whole arena felt like Kanye. The whole crowd was focused on the very force of Kanye. It was so Kanye.
“Y’all are the ones that give me the power to keep creating,” he told the crowd. “No matter what headlines they write, they can’t stop y’all, and as long as they can’t stop y’all, they can’t stop me.”
Please never stop this god dream, Kanye.