Kanye West’s ego is the stuff of lore. In four years as a solo artist he has thrown tantrums and stormed the stage at award shows; ripped President Bush at a Hurricane Katrina benefit; and most recently chewed out an Entertainment Weekly Reporter on his blog, even telling him to “kill yourself” for giving his Glow In The Dark Tour a B+. His show Sunday at the Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater confirmed what everyone already suspects – he is his own dream date and deity. Fortunately, there were other stars on this show. Singer Rihanna sounded shockingly great as she performed her hits, including “Umbrella,” and rapper Lupe Fiasco opened the show with a solid set of songs including “Superstar.”
But the true star of the bill had to be No One Ever Really Dies, the rock group consisting of Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley of Virginia Beach. Maybe it was because they were at home, but even without expensive sets and pyro, N¤E¤R¤D’s performance was lively and inspired.
Of this group, Williams is the obvious star, but he never overshadowed either his group’s music or Hugo and Haley. They came out to an apparently new track from their forthcoming album “Seeing Sounds,” and, through a steady rain, performed a song that might be described as a mixture of gangsta rap and heavy metal. “Are you ADHD?” they screamed during the chorus. The rain stopped. N¤E¤R¤D tore through its oeuvre, doing “Brain,””Lapdance,” and another new thrash-rap song called “Spaz.” Chris Brown, the singer from Tappahannock who is rumored to be dating Rihanna, surprised everyone with an appearance and high energy dance moves.
“I don’t need to say nothing corny,” said Williams, as Haley played the energetic rapper and Hugo played the super-cool, shades- wearing aloof dude behind the keys. “Y’all know where we’re from. You know we’re from here. We eat at 7-Eleven. We know the big booty girls hang out at Military Circle Mall and we know there’s a lot of talent here in the Seven Cities. Thank you for inspiring this song.” The group then played “Rock Star.”N¤E¤R¤D did its new single “Everyone Nose” and Norfolk’s Fam-Lay also stopped by for one tune “Da Beeper Record” there were at least nine performers on stage at times. A gaggle of pretty girls came on stage to dance for “She Wants To Move,” wiggling around Williams. As N¤E¤R¤D finished its set, Williams, who is by now certainly by now aware of his own iconography, posed for the screen, forming his hands into the “two up, two down” gesture symbolizing Virginia & Star Trak \\//.