By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated June 27, 2010 at 12:00 PM EDT
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Image Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.comKanye West just finished performing his new single “Power” to open the 2010 BET Awards. Even more than usual, all eyes were on Mr. West tonight: This was his first major televised appearance since that ill-fated open mic moment during the MTV Video Music Awards last September. So how did he do?

The man definitely still knows how to make an entrance. Dramatically backlit, West stood on top of a periodically erupting volcano set piece with images of majestic mountain peaks projected behind him. Shades and shadows hid most of his facial expressions, so all we could see was his stylish red suit and enormous chain. But that body language was all Kanye. Striking a defiant pose, he began bellowing out the thoroughly unapologetic lyrics to “Power.”

For some reason, the network kept bleeping those lyrics, but it sounded as if he was already self-censoring all the profanities from the song. (They inexplicably muted Dwele’s recorded backing vocals, too.) That’s because Kanye is a consummate professional. If he left viewers thinking he’s shouting mad, ready to take on the whole world at once, that’s exactly the impression he wanted to leave. “Power” is an angry, conflicted, brilliant song. As I’ve said before, it’s a very unconventional choice for a comeback single. And tonight, Kanye West gave it a masterful rendition that pulled no punches.

As he reached the song’s eerie “beautiful death” coda, he boldly gestured for applause from the crowd — and he got it. This audience, at least, seemed 100 percent ready to welcome West back with open arms. After watching that performance, so am I. How about you? Sound off in the comments below.

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