Kanye West at the Xcel Energy Center: 5 takeaways

Highlights from his first Twin Cities show in 8 years.
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Kanye West's Monday concert at the Xcel Energy Center was the nourishment needed to quench the thirst caused by an eight-year drought in the Twin Cities.

Not since April 2008 had Kanye performed in Minnesota, and at that point his most recent album was Graduation. A generation of new fans and the coming-of-age of longtime devotees filled the arena, making those hours waiting for the concert to begin feel something like KanyeCon, or a Kanye Congregation mixer.

But then the lights went out, the stage came up, the lights turned on, and Kanye went off. Minimal banter (only acknowledging that St. Paul was the city that "the tour's named after"), no opening acts, just Kanye by himself rapping on top of a hovering stage while a backing band went largely unseen playing in an orchestral pit.

It was an evening of 30-some different flavors of Kanye. Here are our takeaways.

When the fanes become the show

If Kanye was above you on the floor, the show was the feeling of being in that pit with likeminded Yeezy-stans with Kanye above. If you had a seat, the show was watching Kanye control the crowd. No spaceships or holograms this time, the audience were his puppets.

The shadow of shadows

As wildly colorful and illuminated as most Kanye performances have been, the look of this tour is one of the specter of Kanye gesticulating in and out of dim shadows. It was seemingly the full-length realization of the idea he first presented during his 2013 MTV Video Music Awards' "Blood On the Leaves" performance. For someone so allegedly obsessed with his own ego, his face was obscured for almost the entire performance. It wasn't about Kanye the man, but the feelings his music created in the crowd.

OK, this wasn't Kanye's fault but ...

For a show where each and every second seemed so practiced and thoughtfully constructed, the only moments throwing the flow off would be the Xcel crowd's offbeat clapping. There's nothing Kanye could really do about that, but please, Twin Cities, pick a tempo and follow on the 2 and the 4.

There were some lasers

While there were no fireworks or LED screens, it wasn't until the penultimate song "Fade" that we got some different lights as red lasers shot out from where the stage would normally be as the shadowy figure of Kanye penetrated it.

And Then It Was Over

No encores. "Ultralight Beam" concluded and Kanye descended to the ground with the mortals as security brought him back and the house lights immediately went on. The crowd was sufficiently Kanye'd.

Setlist

Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1
Pt. 2
Famous
Pop Style (Drake)
THat Part (ScHoolboy Q)
Facts
Mercy
Don't Like (G.O.O.D. Music)
All Day
N*ggas in Paris (Watch the Throne)
Can't Tell Me Nothing
Power
Blood on the Leaves
Freestyle 4
Jesus Walks
Flashing Lights
Low Lights
Highlights
Feedback
Wolves
Heartless
Runaway
Only One
I Love Kanye
Waves
Touch the Sky
All of the Lights
Good Life
Stronger
Fade
Ultralight Beam

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