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Home movies and high-end T-shirts: 5 thoughts on Kanye West’s show at the Forum

Kanye West, seen performing at the Forum in Inglewood last month, was among this year's 2017 Grammy nominees.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

A patch of fabric with the number 6 on it had been carefully affixed to a giant banner outside the Forum on Tuesday night, a low-tech means of updating the sign advertising how many sold-out shows Kanye West is performing at the Inglewood arena.

Last week the number was five. But on Friday afternoon, after the rapper had already played three Forum gigs on his “Saint Pablo” tour, the venue announced he’d added one more. (He’ll be back Wednesday and Thursday.) So somebody fired up the sewing machine and got to work.

West himself acknowledged the new total during Tuesday’s concert when he informed the crowd he wouldn’t be unloading one of his signature rants, to use his word for those rambling mid-show speeches in which he holds forth passionately about his importance as a musician or a fashion designer or a booster of his famous friends.

“I think doing six nights at the Forum is talking for me,” he said.

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Here are five thoughts on Night 4:

1. By now you’ve read about (or seen firsthand) the unusual setup for the “Saint Pablo” tour: Instead of occupying a stage fixed at one end of the arena, West performs on a suspended platform that moves slowly over the floor — and the thousands of people who bought general-admission tickets to stand there.

What was fascinating to watch Tuesday was how those folks reacted when West passed overhead. Suddenly visible to all thanks to the platform’s lights, fans began jumping and dancing — some even moshed — with a beautifully theatrical intensity that no one outside that temporary rectangle of light seemed capable of mustering.

The prospect of being seen, in other words, was more inspiring to many than the music was.

2. That’s a condition familiar to Kanye, of course, who at one point screened a lengthy montage of old home-movie clips of his wife, Kim Kardashian, and her family. At the end of the video (which the rapper recently posted on Twitter), words appeared reading “I love you” — a private message that had meaning only if he expressed it in public.

3. As he has at many shows, West wore a piece of his own merch, in this case a T-shirt emblazoned with the precise date of Tuesday’s show. And that limited-edition item demonstrated his keen understanding of the way fashion works — that more than an eye-catching print, it’s the feeling of belonging to a privileged group that might lead someone to pay 85 bucks for something that cost a fraction of that to make.

4. The lack of an improvised rant didn’t mean West was sticking tightly to a script. In “Feedback,” a cut from his album “The Life of Pablo” about how people keep underestimating him, he changed one key lyric — “Name one genius that ain’t crazy” — to the more pointed “I swear to God I ain’t crazy.”

5. Just as the willfully jagged “Pablo” plays with our expectations of a superstar hip-hop album, the “Saint Pablo” production upends established ideas about what an arena gig is supposed to look like. Even so, West couldn’t resist rolling out some of his biggest, most triumphant hits near the end of the show: “Touch the Sky” into “All of the Lights” into “Good Life,” each more exuberant than the last.

Twitter: @mikaelwood

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