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Texas Senator Ted Cruz clashes with Speaker Harry Reid
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Radiohead, Black Keys, Dr. Dre and Snoop to headline Coachella
Florence + the Machine, Bon Iver, Madness and dozens more slated for identical lineups on two April weekends. [Watch]
Turn your clocks back one hour
Fox adds Jeffrey Osborne; Paul Rodriguez with Los Lobos
Comic and Grammy-winning band team to raise money for Cesar Chavez statue. [Watch]
Fox promoter Cathy Rigby adds reprise of Peter Pan role to lineup
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Identity electronic festival moved from Devore to Hollywood Palladium
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General admission tickets $20 this weekend only. [Watch]
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PBS making cuts to staff; KVCR-TV remains local affiliate
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Luis Miguel, Rascal Flatts to play San Manuel Amphitheater
Judas Priest brings farewell tour to Devore
Tickets on sale Saturday for Oct. 22 show. [Watch]
Coachella to expand to two weekends in 2012
Tickets go on sale Friday; lineup has not been announced. [Watch]
Kirk Whalum added to Friday's Bob James show at the Fox
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Kris Kristofferson to replace Loretta Lynn at Stagecoach
Kanye West dominates final day of Coachella with powerful statement
Meanwhile, Duran Duran -- yes, Duran Duran -- gets hip and symphonic as eclectic festival closes. [Watch]
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Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Kanye West headline Coachella 2011
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Review: Indio's 2010 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival entertainers stranded by airport problems in Europe and the United Kingdom
Whitney Houston's comeback tour filled with problems
Eagles to reunite; band to perform at Ontario Citizens Bank Arena
2010 Coachella Music Festival includes some rule changes this year
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Abbey Road 2.0; recording studio best known as the musical home of the Beatles
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U2 brings massive crowd to the Rose Bowl
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Phish Festival 8 at Empire Polo Field in Indio
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OK, so now we feel sorry for Kanye
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Grace Corbet Kisner
Kanye West dominates final day of Coachella with powerful statement
By Cathy Maestri
Kanye West had something to prove with the intense, soul-baring set that closed the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio on Sunday night. While he may have been aiming for the approval of the crowd, it appeared that it was West who needed his own validation.
Too sensitive to be a hardened, hard-core rapper, too artistic to settle for big beats but no melody, West’s talents have always set him apart. But the offstage equivalents have been drama and trauma — spats, drinking, tactless comments, the 2007 death of his mother and, most infamously, the outburst during Taylor Swift’s 2009 VMA speech that made him a target of universal scorn.
He seemed genuinely mortified that he’d hurt people, not to mention the fact that he was roundly regarded as a jerk; no less than President Barack Obama called him a “jackass.”
Swift forgave him and appeared to absolve him in a song, “You’re Still an Innocent”; West upbraided himself in “Runaway.”
Subsequently, he’s seemed to get both his life and career back on track. But Coachella seems to be a watershed for West, who performed a lighthearted surprise afternoon set in 2006. It’s one thing to be welcomed by your own fans; it’s another to be cheered by a crowd gathered not because of rap or celebrity, but by a discerning one gathered to hear good music.
So West made both an artistic and personal statement with a dark, powerful, cathartic set. The backdrop was a massive Greco-Roman bas-relief, occasionally supplemented with upward bursts or downward showers of fireworks. Though a large troupe of dancers periodically joined him, West was a solitary figure onstage.
He emerged from the crowd and then rose high above the stage on an elevated lift (despite gusty desert winds), pounding through “Dark Fantasy” and “Power” — the crowd singing along — from last year’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”; then it was the powerful “Jesus Walks” and cocky “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” Later, Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) served as the sweet Greek chorus on “Monster.” It was at once intense, angry and spiritual.
West’s winding path climbed out of the valley a little with “Flashing Lights” and”Good Life,” but after some more fireworks (perhaps as figural as literal) came the cautionary “Love Lockdown” — building into the thunderous rumble you’d expect from a marching band — and the layered “Say You Will,” both from 2008’s “808s & Heartbreak.”
West, who had rarely paused between song, then addressed the audience, explaining he’d been “in a dark place” while writing the album. He also admitted that Coachella “is the most important show to me since my Mom passed.”
West was clearly moved by the huge crowd’s overwhelming response. “To still love me after everything I read or saw on TV said the opposite… I really appreciate y’all tonight, because I’m only trying to say and do what’s right.
“I’m not the best singer in the world,” he confessed, adding that music was the best way for him to convey his emotions. “To have this moment is so unbelieveable… y’all make it all worth it.”
West seemed more relaxed after that, but no less intense. He brightened as fireworks lit the stage for “Touch the Sky” and even had a little fun as the crowd danced and sang along with “Gold Digger,” but a happy ending would have been disingenuous.
After doing “Stronger,” West left the stage as the theme from “Chariots of Fire” played and the dancers covered the stage and themselves with a billowing white fabric. It blew back to reveal West, now in a vivid red suit; he stepped to a keyboard to strike the piercing first notes of “Runaway,” in which he toasts those of dubious honor while warning those he cares about to stay clear.
“Lost in the World” took on a tribal feel, and he closed his set and the festival with a dedication to his late mother, Donda, “Hey, Mama.”It was a bittersweet, but true-to-life, finale. Ms. West’s boy has indeed done some growing up.
The rest of Sunday’s lineup was the eclectic mix the festival is known for. Just before West’s dark set, English singer PJ Harvey did her own on the smaller outdoor stage. Arizona’s Jimmy Eat World offered its blazing pop under a blazing sun. Most of its set was heavier than its crowd-pleasing hits, but “The Middle” induced crowd surfing and the enthusiastic whoa-oah-oaoah sing-along on “Sweetness” was enough to give you chills. Best Coast offered its own sunny California pop and a buzzy take on its “Boyfriend.” The regrouped Strokes served up plenty of hits.
One of the oddest lineup pairings may have been a subtle bit of humor — the squalling psychopunk of the reunited Death From Above 1979 was followed by the incarnation of early ’80s music, Duran Duran. The crazy part was, Duran rocked. The band’s career has had its ups (early MTV) and downs (the Warren Cuccurullo era), but fresh from studio sessions with Mark Ronson (producer of Amy Winehouse, brother of DJ Samantha Ronson), they sound tight and cool. They covered all the bases, from brooding early-period pieces “Planet Earth” and “The Chauffeur” to the breezy “Rio,” “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Notorious.” But new tunes “All You Need is Now” and “Safe” fit right in — and the latter featured a guest turn by the Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic. “I’m onstage with Duran Duran and I’m freaking out!”
The band’s Coachella moment came when they brought out some symphonic instrumentation for a tribute to film composer John Barry with his “Goldfinger.” No surprise that it segued into a symphonic version of the band’s own James Bond theme, “View to a Kill,” with singer Simon LeBon looking snazzy as ever in black tie and a white tux jacket. And where he’d faltered on a few notes earlier on, here he nailed it.
The crowd — guys, too — danced along, but seemed a bit too self conscious to clap. (C’mon, without Duran Duran do you think we’d have electroclash?) The band seemed to solve that problem with its final song, “Girls on Film” — the hipster next to me leaped to his feet and started dancing when LeBon started tossing in Lady Gaga lyrics.
Photos: A concertgoer keeps set times at hand — on her cast; Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino.
Photos by Cathy Maestri