Fog machines pump white puffs of mist into the air. Ominous, low bass tones hum from the speakers. The lights go dark for just a moment. Then, Yeezus himself descends toward the crowd on a suspended platform as the first track in his set list blasts.
Kanye West’s Saint Pablo Tour, promoting his eighth studio album, “The Life of Pablo,” was held back-to-back at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Friday and Saturday.
Fans packed the arena to see the 22 Grammy Award-winning rapper in the flesh.
While some artists choose to perform songs from only their newest album, West featured a variety of tracks. Older hits included “Jesus Walks” and “Touch the Sky,” while more recent ones included “Fade” and “Famous.”
UM students had mixed feelings about the set list.
“I would have liked him to play a few more of his old songs, even though he did play a variety from all his albums,” said junior psychology major Sofia Coll.
West chose to both open and close his performances with tracks from “The Life of Pablo.” He opened with “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” and “Pt. 2,” while he closed with “Fade” and “Ultralight Beam.”
After finishing “Ultralight Beam,” West’s platform quickly descended. Fans stuck around for a few minutes afterward, waiting to see whether West would perform an encore. However, once the lights were turned back on in the arena, concertgoers filed out of their seats.
The sound quality in the arena was remarkable. West’s crisp, clear vocals bumbled between his natural voice and auto-tune effects depending on the song. While the bass in the arena was strong, it didn’t overpower the performances or sacrifice sound quality for bravado.
West’s crowd work was impressive as well. He paused to talk to the crowd throughout the concerts and encouraged the audience to sing along to his songs.
During “Heartless,” West sang one line of the chorus then paused to let the crowd sing the next lyric. This back-and-forth participation continued throughout the song, culminating in the crowd clapping along to the beat as the music stopped and only West’s voice could be heard.
During an intermission on Friday, West discussed his art, inspiration and dreams. “One hundred years from now, none of us will be here,” West said. “But what did we do while we were here?”
Some lighting effects made it difficult for fans in the upper seating levels to see West or take clear photographs, although the moving suspended platform brought fans much closer to West than a standard stationary stage would have.
“I also loved the consistency of the mood that the lights set,” said Veena Karanam, a junior microbiology and literature major. “I went to ‘Yeezus’ in 2013 and that was exciting and super dynamic because of the consistent mood shifting, but ‘Pablo’ was nice because it was more about enjoying the music than putting on a show.”
The Saint Pablo Tour is truly an unforgettable experience. West performs a wide selection of his singles, interacts with the crowd and brings a dynamic, moving element to his performances: the suspended platform.
For West fans or just fans of hip-hop and rap in general, this is a tour worth traveling for.
The next Saint Pablo Tour dates are Thursday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. in the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, and Saturday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. in the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
The tour runs through Oct. 29. Tickets start at $25 on Ticketmaster.