​Kanye West Bell Stage, Ottawa ON, July 10

​Kanye West Bell Stage, Ottawa ON, July 10
Photo: Kamara Morozuk
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When Ottawa Bluesfest announced Kanye West as a headliner back in March, a petition (mimicking the one started for his Glastonbury appearance) sprung up on Facebook urging organizers to drop him, ludicrously calling him "irrelevant." On the first Friday of this sprawling 11-day festival, tens of thousands of fans deafened the haters, packing LeBreton Flats Park to witness one of the most controversial and beloved musicians of the new millennium.
 
Returning to the Nation's Capital for the first time since his 2007 Bluesfest headlining slot, West entered to a stripped-down and modest stage setup, consisting mainly of a large rack of white stage lights rigged to lower down a just few feet from his head. Standing back from the crown near the middle of the stage while grasping a mic stand, Kanye began the show slightly subdued, but grew more animated as he ran through renditions of some of his most dynamic tracks, "Stronger" and "Power." But it all played out as part of West's well-conceived performance, as the Chicago rapper pulled the mic from its stand to dance around the massive stage, performing a full set of crowd-pleasers — "Mercy," "Heartless" and "All Falls Down" — alongside tracks he's been featured on, like Rihanna's "FourFiveSeconds," "Clique" and his collaboration with Jay-Z, "N*ggas in Paris."
 
Due to West entering the stage 15 minutes late, he told the audience that he'd need rush through the rest of his set, launching into truncated versions of tracks like "Flashing Lights," "Can't Tell Me Nothing" and "Jesus Walks" before ending with a version of "Only One" that found Kanye lying on his back.
 
Without the assistance of a flashy light show, video backdrop or the presence of a backing band (as his musicians were relegated to the dark corners of the stage), West showed the fans that his magnetic confidence, aided by his massive catalogue of hits, were more than enough to electrify a crowd of that magnitude.