Kanye West Concert Review

kanye panorama
During “All of the Lights” Kanye told everyone to shine their cell phone lights and I was able to capture this cool shot.

Kanye West played the New Orleans Arena on December 5th and I was lucky enough to attend this concert so you won’t have to. I won’t lie, the $59 ticket price tag along with opener Kendrick Lamar are two factors that heavily contributed to my decision to purchase a ticket. I never know when to show up for a concert that isn’t a festival, so after work that day, I browsed the internet to find out if there was an act going on before Kendrick Lamar. No concert review for this even had a mention of Kanye’s opener, but I did find out that his set list was a staggering 28 songs long. “Great,” I thought, “I’m not getting home until the middle of the night.”

I arrived at the Arena at about 7:45 – just in time to hear Kendrick Lamar playing his popular song “Swimming Pools (Drank).” It’s the only song of his that I know the words for, so I was a bit disappointed to miss that along with whatever he played before that. When I initially got to my section, I was on the wrong end of the row. Instead of getting to the right seat, I stayed put because I noticed that there were several empty seats not only in my row, but throughout the whole arena. There was even noticeable space in the general admission section on the floor. (Never fear, I retreated to my correct seat once people started to show up in my row.)

After Lamar wrapped up his set around 8, I searched for a beer (if for no other reason than to break up my $20 bill so I could pay for parking) and returned to my seat noting that there were still a ton of empty seats. Surely, this concert was a sellout or close to it. I took the below picture and tweeted it. Our own MattyMcBoy tweeted back at me saying that ticket sales for this tour outside of New York and L.A. have been abysmal. Then I recalled a review I read while scouring the internet trying to find out about show openers that said that his show in Kansas City, KS sold only about 4,500 tickets in an arena that seats 19,000.

While his stage set up wasn’t elaborate, it was a bit over the stop with the symbolism. Oh, it’s a mountain. I get it. Kanye thinks he’s a god. He graced us with his presence around 8:45, albeit wearing a fancy mask, and opened with “On Sight” (as his latest album Yeezus does). Next up was “New Slaves,” though maybe he forgot the words because he had the crowd sing about half of it.

One thing that I found interesting was that he broke up is set list into 5 themes: Fighting, Rising, Falling, Searching, and Finding. Each part was defined when the word was defined on a screen above stage and voiced over by a female voice (not Kim K.).  The set list was as follows:


  1. On Sight
  2. New Slaves
  3. Send it up
  4. Mercy


  1. Power (sang from the top of his mountain set up, ok, I get it. You think you’re awesome.)
  2. Cold
  3. I Don’t Like
  4. Clique
  5. Black Skinhead
  6. I am a God
  7. Can’t Tell Me Nothing
  8. Coldest Winter


  1. Hold My Liquor
  2. I’m In it
  3. Guilt Trip
  4. Heartless
  5. Blood on the Leaves


  1. Lost in the World
  2. Runaway

(10 minute interlude where he talked to the crowd and tried to tell us he’s not crazy. I beg to differ, sir.)


  1. Stronger
  2. Through the Wire
  3. Jesus Walks (an actor dressed as Jesus came on stage and touched him or something and then ‘Ye removed his mask).
  4. Diamonds from Sierra Leone
  5. Flashing Lights
  6. All of the Lights
  7. Good Life
  8. Bound 2
Jesus and Yeezus
Jesus and Yeezus

There were a few standout points in the show for me. The first was pretty personal. While getting ready to perform “Coldest Winter” ‘Ye told the audience that he wrote the song for his mom shortly after she passed away. At that moment I connected with him. He sang the hook to that song, “Goodbye my friend, will I ever love again” and I couldn’t help but think of my dad, who recently passed away and I burst into tears. For one second, it was like Kanye was a regular human being and not the pompous ass he seems to be.

As I mentioned earlier, his stage setup was pretty minimal and to me it seemed like it was lacking something. Then he sang “Blood on the Leaves” and there were pyrotechnics and I realized that sort of over the top, in your face element that you might expect at a Kanye West concert was missing from the show. And hey, as cold as it was in the arena, I appreciated the fireballs as they seemed to heat up the place a bit.

kanye empty

In a time when encores no longer organic, but expected, Kanye performed Bound 2, dropped mic and walked off the stage. Could you expect anything else from today’s most famous raging egomaniac?

All pics courtesy clarity83.

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