Watching Kanye at Cardiff Cineworld

Words by:

So me and my boy Sion head along to Cardiff Cineworld to catch Season 3.

I’m excited enough. It’s been a while since I went unto the altar of Yeezus, and frankly it still feels fucking fantastic knowing I’m not a sadsack who moans about the guy’s ego – the same sadsacks who loudly go out of their way to let you know they prefer a night in the pub than in the club. ‘At least I can bloody hear myself talk!’ they tell you. Precisely mate, so can I, and I seriously wish I couldn’t.

The problem is that whilst having the Madison Square Garden show live-streamed to cinemas worldwide sounds like a baller move, the reality in a South Wales Cineworld is profoundly stale, and not without problems. Take these three out in the foyer – Sam, Miguel and “Nigel” are easily the most gassed to be here out of the sixty odd crowd who’ve wandered in. “How did you feel about giving up eighteen quid for a Cineworld seat?” I ask. Turns out, Sam’s dad bought them all tickets yesterday.

Unfortunately it’s bad news for Sam’s dad as all three get knocked back for having no ID. Sorry lads, but when the BFCC heard Thug was showing up in a fleece fashioned from a flock of live ducklings they immediately slapped an 18 certificate on it.

Inside, and there’s live footage of 20,000 people trying to guess what’s under the womb-like canopy on stage. Madison Square Gardens looks great, but still makes me think of the Godzilla reboot with Jean Reno. After the Kardashians take a seat, Ye and the lads rock up like the crowd who only show at your parties when fuck all else is happening.

“Hands up which of you daft nuggets was expecting a live show?” is what Kanye may as well ask at this point. Stood behind the laptop, and after giving the crowd permission to dance, he sticks on Ultra Light Beams, which on reflection could be the best track on the record. Sparse, soulful and gorgeously warm, there’s a moment of sincerity here as a clearly knackered West appears to relax. Pusha and the boys decide against the walk to the smoking area and spark up indoors. Everyone’s vibin’ ‘ard.

The canopy comes off, and underneath, the cast of Les Misérables are all getting paid to look like they’re on the comedown of a lifetime. Season 3 features a lot of knits and see-through tops, whilst Thug quietly rocks the aforementioned fleece. Father Stretch My Hands picks things up, and everyone’s starting to bounce a little. In Madison Square Gardens that is. The assembled throng in Cardiff stays firmly seated.

Not long after this, the Cineworld experience delivers more grief when the area manager guy and a heavy ask me to step outside and confiscate the laptop I’m making notes on, along with my phone, passport and my two tins of Zubr.

“What did you boys think was better,” I ask, “Swish or Waves?”

“Try anything else and we’re calling the police,” comes the response.

Oh well. Bereft of identity and possessions, they let me back in. My boy Sion says I haven’t missed much. He’s wrong. I never heard the bullshit line about Taylor, and presumably missed the bit where Pusha and the boys asked Ye if that kind of chat’s really necessary.

Naomi Campbell’s on stage now, apparently not bothered by the brief handed out beforehand, and now I kind of miss Empire. Some of the models are starting to cop out and take seats when they’re tired. We see contained little movements throughout. People shift on their feet, fists go up in the air, and a few weep quietly during LOP’s auto-tuned crooning. It’s awkward.

It’s around this stage the impact of the spectacle starts to wear off – a real ‘party winding down’ vibe. Songs are getting cut short. The multitude of voices on the record keep things interesting, and Real Friends gets a big reaction both times its played, but the uncertainty, the ambiguity, and the lack of action make it difficult to keep your mind on the music, which itself seems made up of relatively subdued tracks. Dark Fantasy and Yeezus were both, in their own way, clear and extreme statements of intent. It’s early days, but this is an approach TLOP sounds like it’s shunned.

Once Kanye’s done doing Kanye, there’s something glorious about Thug and co fighting over the audio jack and watching the models go at it in the pit. My boy Sion’s getting a bit excited now, and people are walking down the aisle to get selfies in front of the cinema screen, which I bet all looked fucking wicked. Outside, the area manager guy is waiting with my stuff. I realise I’m humming Heartless on the escalator.

Great record.