In his infamous interview with Zane Lowe 2 years ago, Kanye West stated that, “rap is the new rock & roll, we the rock stars, and i’m the biggest of all of them, i’m the number one rock star on the planet.”
Well, Kanye was given his chance to prove it on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2015. He wisely kicked off his glasto set with one of his most commercially successful songs, ‘Stronger’, which uses the sample of the Daft Punk’s ‘harder better faster stronger’.
The rapper almost seemed as if he was pleading with the crowd to give him a chance, sheepishly singing, “I need you tonight.” Then he snapped back to his old self, reveling rapping the words, “take this….HATERS!”
The stage set up was quite unique, the stage lights were lowered to approx 10 feet above the rapper’s head. With only himself on stage, it gave the huge stage quite a claustrophobic feel, which worked for Kanye’s one man performance.
‘Niggas in Paris’ exploded for his third track of the night, as the crowd bounced uncontrollably.
Before the fourth tune started, he asked the stage manager to lift up the lights, explaining that he was “gonna bang his f***ing head.”
During the fourth song ‘Black Skinhead’, Kanye got a little taste of his own medicine, as comedian Lee Nelson, pulled a Taylor Swift interruption on the rapper. This led Kanye stopping the song half-way through, telling the DJ to start again.
A little later, Foreigner’s ‘Cold As Ice’ played for 30 seconds before, Kanye launched into ‘Cold’.
‘New Slaves’ featured great crowd participation, with the rapper and the audience going back & forth singing “now there’s leaders & there’s followers, but I’d rather be a dick than a swallower.”
‘New Slaves’ was the high point, until the haunting sound of Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’, brought the crowd noise to a whisper. It was the most powerful moment of the set, showcasing all that is essential about Kanye’s music.
‘Blood on the Leaves’ uses ‘Strange Fruit’ as a sample, and it’s the best sample West has ever used on any song. An explosion of white light half way through the track awakens it, as he sings “we could’ve been somebody.”
The piano version of ‘Heartless’ was a delight, displaying West at his best, as the crowd loved shouting the lyrics back at him.
This was followed by a very soft violin version of ‘I Wonder’ and an acoustic version of ‘FourFiveSeconds’ by Rihanna.
Unfortunately, this was the low point of the set, all the energy faded, it was the moment when everyone headed to the bar to get a drink. Kanye covered Bon Iver’s ‘Woods’ and sang 2 horribly grating autotune tracks with Justin Vernon.
There was no interaction with the crowd, West never addresses them. It left this section of the set completely dead. It also didn’t help that all through the gig, there seemed to be a never ending feeling of audio equipment problems.
Kanye took an hour to finally address the crowd, as he tried to explain the lyrics of ‘Lost In A World’. He rambled on about emailing his wife, trying to explain how much he loved her, saying “She brings the poetry outta me“. It was a weird never-ending tangent, this section of five cover & autotune tracks, killed the vibe of the gig completely, which didn’t seem to bother West one bit.
Luckily he changed momentum with ‘Jesus Walks’, finally bringing the energy back. However, with the death of Eric Garner, the song took on a poignant and chilling meaning as West rapped the lyrics, “I walk through the valley of Chi where death is, Top floor of the view alone will leave you breathless, Try to catch it, it’s kinda hard, Getting choked by detectives yeah, yeah, now check the method.”
‘Bound 2’ saw West walk to the edge of the stage for the first time and strangely edit out the last lyric ‘bitch’ to ‘bae’. He then proceeded to recreate his very annoying VMA performance of ‘Runaway’, bring out his drum sampler. Thankfully he restrained himself and the song wasn’t half as bad as the 2010 performance.
Then the highlight of the night, Kanye strapped himself into a crane box that raised him 50 feet above the crowd. It was amazing, as he spit out the lyrics for ‘Touch the Sky’ with a clear concise tempo. ‘All of the Lights’ and ‘Good Life’ completed his crane section of the concert.
Back down on the ground, Kanye sang a short version of Bohemian Rhapsody. It was very special because it was actually the anniversary of Queens’ very first gig.
Kanye announced to the audience “they saying we got 7 minutes left“, then kicked into ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing.”
After ‘Gold Digga’ he tells the audience, “i might not able to say this in 20, 30 years – you are now watching the greatest living rock star on the planet.” Not only did he say it, he repeated it.
‘Greatest living rock star on the planet’ came across more like a desperate plea, however, knowing what know about Kanye West, he most definitely believed what he saying.
He continued “I’m a do an old one – We gonna rock till they pull the motherfucking plug“. The last song of the set was ‘All Falls Down’. It fit well with the situation, as Kanye appeared pissed off, throwing a water bottle across the stage, when he’d finished the track.
What was bothering him, who knows? He’s not a guy who likes being told what to do, no doubt we’ll hear the reasons for his frustrations at some stage.
Kanye may be correct claiming, rap is the new rock & roll, he probably is the biggest star of all of them, and for one night at Glastonbury, he was the number one rock star on the planet.
Kanye West Setlist Glastonbury 2015
Niggas in Paris
I Don’t Like (Chief Keef cover)
Blood on the Leaves
FourFiveSeconds (Rihanna cover)
Woods (Bon Iver cover)
Lost in the World (with Justin Vernon)
Hold My Liquor (with Justin Vernon)
No Church In The Wild
Diamonds from Sierra Leone
Touch the Sky
All of the Lights
Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover)
Can’t Tell Me Nothing
All Falls Down