Having last week canceled his appearance at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show due to his mother’s death, Kanye West decided to go ahead with his planned performance at Le Zénith in Paris. Near the end of his set, he was prepared to sing a tribute to his late mother when he broke down and cried.

“He just cracked,” one attendee tells PEOPLE, “He was at the end of his concert and had just started to dedicate the song and then he just lost it completely.”

“He said the word, ‘Mother’ and just couldn’t go any further,” Le Parisien journalist Meddy Magloire said. “A back-up singer, the DJ and a guitar player came over to console him. It looked like he might collapse. He just couldn’t continue. He just stood there in a spotlight, crying while the band continued playing.”

The band restarted the song, but West left the stage, returning after 10-15 minutes to conclude the concert with a rousing performance of “Stronger.”

“He was very nervous, seemed to have gathered himself up, and had a lot of energy,” Magloire says. “He kept shouting out to the audience, ‘I need you… I need you right now.’ and the public was screaming back. It was magic.”

Performing after your mother died and trying to sing a tribute to her the week after takes guts. That’s something I know a lot about. For instance, this morning I heard a strange noise and dove under my bed. Turns out it was the doorbell. The point is, I was under there without my blankie and I didn’t pee myself. I’m a big boy now!

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