Kanye West saves day at Coachella

Last Updated: Apr 19, 2011, 09:44 AM IST

California: Kanye West doesn`t have the best track record as a festival attraction: remember the ill-planned performance at Bonnaroo 2008 when he emerged hours late to perform a lighting-show-reliant set as the sun came up to a bitter, rapidly-emptying corral of fans.

So, his festival-closing set at Coachella on Sunday was under a fairly intense microscope: Another major screw-up in such a high-profile environment would shred his reputation.

Thankfully, that was far from the case. Starting just 15 minutes after his scheduled 10:30 start time (the blame for which rests squarely on other acts earlier in the day), West delivered a grandiose, theatrical performance destined to be remembered as one of the great hip-hop sets of all time.

Every moment of the carefully-choreographed set was larger than life, beginning with West`s entrance. He rose above the audience via an enormous crane that swung him over nearly the entirety of the main stage`s gigantic swath of real estate while blasting through "Dark Fantasy."

The high-intensity start was followed by a run-through of nearly all of West`s hits ("Stronger," "Gold Digger," "Through The Wire") divided into a cinematic, three-part arc that was mostly special-guest free and hit surprising emotional resonance mid-set, when West declared his Coachella performance the most important to him since his mother`s unexpected death in 2007. The heft of that statement carried through the performance`s end, when West nearly teared up during the poignant "Hey, Mama."

West`s strength felt needed on a day of mixed performances. Other than a solid, stoned main-stage set from "Black and Yellow" rapper Wiz Khalifa, not much resonated with the sold-out (if exceedingly tired) crowd. A much-hyped reunion of Canadian rockers Death From Above 1979 turned out to be more noisy than worth making noise about, and LA`s cute Best Coast were just that, no more. Even the National -- the moody, dark rockers who seem to be on the verge of a breakthrough -- had a hard time connecting, with many fans sitting or sleeping rather than appearing engaged.

Standing above the fray in the evening were Duran Duran, out to re-prove their hipness after years as a state-fair mainstay, and Coachella veterans Chromeo, a Palestinian/Israeli dance-pop duo. Both delivered different versions of 1980s-style, synth-heavy, interaction-encouraged pop (though only one actually helped invent the genre).

The Strokes drew a monstrous crowd, while PJ Harvey attracted considerably fewer fans to a drab, if well-intentioned set that found her playing everything from auto-harp to acoustic guitar.

Bureau Report