Before U2 went 360 and Madonna was Sticky & Sweet, Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark Tour raised the bar on multi-sensory arena experiences with gigs that were one part eye-popping light show, one part art exhibit and, most importantly, one part incredible concert. With Rihanna, N.E.R.D., Santigold and Lupe Fiasco as openers, West took the show from North America to China and Europe, and now fans can get a glimpse of the MC’s exploits in the massive 300-page Glow in the Dark book, featuring impressive pictures by tour photographer Nabil Elderkin.
Elderkin explains West allowed him fly-on-the-wall access to even his most private moments because they’d connected early in the producer/MC’s career in Chicago. His book includes rare candid shots of West, Rihanna and the tour’s big names, as well as snaps of West’s risqué 808s and Heartbreak listening party and an interview between West and director Spike Jonze that serves as a narrative. (Sample exchange: “Do you watch porn every day?” “Every day.”)
With a bird’s-eye view on West’s creative process, Elderkin has a unique perspective on what would have West’s next major project — the Fame Kills Tour with Lady Gaga — and he reports the show was going to be massive. “He was going big. It was going to be something very interesting and very big,” says Elderkin, who was already shooting the show’s early production stages when it was canceled. “And hopefully will, when the time’s right, something will come out. He spent a lot of time with his designing and conceptualizing of that. Lots of different Moog boards and stuff. He put a lot of detail and work into putting that one together.”
Of the thousands of photos Elderkin snapped of Glow in the Dark, highlights in the book include images of Jay-Z and West onstage together at Madison Square Garden (“You see those moments when Kanye gets super excited, and that was definitely one of those moments,” Elderkin says) and Elderkin’s favorite photograph, a two-page spread of Kanye performing in London.
Noticeably absent from the backstage photos, however, is Chris Brown, who was a frequent guest of his then-girlfriend Rihanna (“His security guard wasn’t cool,” Elderkin tells RS), but the team got a treat at the MTV Europe Video Music Awards in Liverpool. “I got to meet Paul McCartneyâ€¦ in the city where the Beatles were born,” Elderkin says about photos showing West embracing both Macca and Bono.
In one of the book’s most fascinating moments, West takes an honest look at his delayed and lambasted performance at Bonnaroo in 2008. A two-page photograph of five port-o-potties with “Fuck Kanye” graffiti-ed on them opens up into a four-page, text-only collection of headlines featuring every major publications’ headlines regarding Kanye’s much-criticized performance (including our very own.) “That was definitely Kanye’s idea. He’s Kanye,” Elderkin says. “He’s a very honest guy, as you can tell.”