Kanye West is a polarizing character. The Chicago rapper-producer (and sometime singer) has been called many things by both fans and detractors — from genius to blowhard.
But one thing he has yet to be accused of is laziness. Sunday night at the TD Garden, whatever anyone’s preconceived notions may have been about West going in, one thing was abundantly clear by night’s end: the dude works hard.
In a spectacular, sometimes riveting, sometimes baffling but never boring two-hour performance in support of his darkly disruptive latest album “Yeezus,” West walked the walk. With unflagging, frenetic energy he warmed up a chilly, minimalist-yet-literally mountainous set design by blazing through more than two dozen songs and presenting a singular vision. (Apparently, that vision didn’t include several of West’s hits including “Gold Digger.”)
That vision did include, among other things, West performing atop a large glacial mountain, briefly being menaced by a Yeti (Sasquatch?), hanging with (a) Jesus (lookalike), being attended to by 12 masked female disciples — sometimes clad in robes, sometimes in nude body stockings — and wearing a succession of face-covering masks himself — like balaclavas but with no eyeholes and adorned with various shiny accoutrements. This all may only make sense in West’s world but it was something to behold.
The show was broken into five thematic parts.
“Fighting” included the chunky synth eruption of opener “On Sight” and the siren shrieks and bass throb of “Send it Up.” (The bass rumble got progressively assaultive throughout the night.)
“Rising” found West shirtless atop Mount Kanye-manjaro digging into the funky “Power” before descending to a central platform in the middle of the arena where he spent most of the night during the “Falling,” “Searching,” and “Finding” phases playing to every side of the arena and its sold out crowd of 12,889 fans.
Those fans were eager participants, vocally urging West along during the defiant “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” as the platform rose to a perilous angle. There he lied down to rap “Coldest Winter” for his late mother as faux snow fell from the rafters.
They cheered his brief post-“Runaway” musings on confidence and self-belief, crooned along to “Heartless,” shimmied to “Stronger” and went wild when near the show’s end he finally removed his mask.