The Big Chill 2011 - Kanye West

Saturday's headliner
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Before Kanye West even took to the stage for his grand headlining slot at Saturday’s Big Chill Festival, so much had already been written about the eccentric rapper. Living up to his diva status, West apparently booked the luxurious 12 bedroom Eastnor Castle for his stay – costing a whopping £7,000 per night. Known equally for his flamboyant stage sets and outspoken behaviour as well as his music, The Chi Town MC’s performance at the Eastnor Park venue is true to form and doesn’t disappoint in the creativity department, despite leaving audiences slightly divided in opinion.

Appearing half an hour late, many revellers are frustrated by the rappers tardiness and begin to jeer. But when West finally arrives on stage, appearing from the sound tower at the centre of the crowd, the boos soon turn to cheers. The 34-year-old begins his set with Dark Fantasy, while 20 ballerinas and his three-man band are situated at the Roman statue themed main stage.

Kanye West is not your average rapper and his theatrical set is more reminiscent of a Broadway musical, as opposed to a hip-hop show. It’s this artistic trait that separates West from his peers and pleasantly differentiates his live shows from his rap rivals.

He swiftly makes his way to the main stage and the show really begins. Power, Jesus Walks and Diamonds Are Forever are greeted with rapturous applause, as fans rap along and throw their ‘Roc’ signs in the air.

The two-hour set is a combination of new and old songs, taken from West’s five studio albums, as well as verses from Monster, Swagga Like Us and Katy Perry’s E.T.

Good Life and Love Lockdown are general crowd pleasers and have audiences singing out loud. And while fans are enjoying the up-tempo set, this is by no means the multi-Grammy winner’s best performance - an admission he expresses.

"I'm sorry for losing my voice earlier and turning up late, we're trying to get this perfect," he said during a seven minute talking period. “I'm very frustrated that I can't perform at the level... I'm going to try as hard as I can to give you the best show I can. Even with half a voice."

He went on express his frustration at being labelled a “monster” by the media and comparisons to Hitler: 'I walk through the hotel, and I walk down the street, and people look at me like I'm insane, like I'm Hitler,' he told the crowd.

While most fans appreciated the rappers honest and extremely personal accounts, some saw it as yet ‘another rant’. But either way, when the music kicked in, all divided opinions were vanished, as the crowd lapped up hit after hit, including Stronger, All Falls Down and Gold Digger – which garnered the biggest applause .

West closed his set with a touching Amy Winehouse tribute, playing a medley of the Brit singers 'Tears Dry On My Own' and 'Back To Black', after dedicating his show to his late mother. 

Although audiences may have expected a little bit more from the festival's biggest ever headliner, Kanye West on a bad day is still better than most on their very best.

Words by Vanessa Laker

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