I’ve been fortunate enough to see some amazing old school acts in the last year – Jeru the Damaja, Lord Finesse, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest – and last week was the turn of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan who were performing in London as a part of their 20th Anniversary Tour. They promised big things, and they delivered .
I was a little sceptical about buying a ticket first and foremost. Last time Wu-Tang were in England it was a bit of a mess, with members dropping out and the whole thing being a bit of a shambles, but then again seeing just a few of the members would have been worth the money and the effort so in the end it wasn’t an opportunity to leave hanging. I missed the warm up acts – UK’s Mic Righteous and Bishop Nehru who came over from New York – which I kinda regret because I feel like I’m disrespecting them and they are dope artists in their own right, but there were other circumstances outside of my control. At least I caught a half hour from DJ Semtex who killed it, getting the crowd hyped with some classics (‘Kick In The Door’, ‘Mass Appeal’, ‘How Many MCs’, ‘T.R.O.Y’, you know the deal) before Wu-Tang’s long time tour DJ Allah Mathematics got his work going on stage. The lights dropped, the logo shone and we were off.
RZA came out first, blasting the mic solo, before GZA, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah hustled onstage. At this point I got kinda worried, wondering where everyone else was, but out they all came – Masta Killa, Cappadonna (first time he’s been to the UK in ten years, he says), the lot. The energy they were feeding the crowd was crazy, and the crowd were giving back all they got, ‘W’s and middle fingers in the air, mosh pits, matching every word as the Clan sprayed the front with champagne (which made the evening for me, energy is the most important thing in a live performance in my opinion, from both the crowd and the performers, because otherwise it’s hard to enjoy yourself).
The posse dropped classic after classic, – ‘Bring Tha Ruckus’, ‘C.R.E.A.M’, ‘Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin ta Fuk Wit’ to name a few – as well as dropping some of their solo material augmented by the other members and paying a passionate tribute to ODB. The even found the time to give the DJ his time in the spot light which he enjoyed no doubt, as he took his shoes off and began scratching with his toes. However, I have to give a special shout out to Method Man who simply killed the show. He once claimed his energy level was infinity but he gave even more in Brixton, and possessed the stage whenever he was on the mic. The highlight of the show for me was his performance of ‘Fall Out’; second were his stage dives.
There was one thing that threatened to derail the gig, and it wasn’t Wu-Tang’s fault: the terrible sound. I’m not really sure what happened because I’ve been to Brixton Academy before and the sound was crisp then and it was fine for DJ Semtex, but the audio was so bad that words were barely distinguishable and you couldn’t make out the beats (when ‘C.R.E.A.M’ dropped I thought they were doing some kind of remix before I clocked it was actually the original beat, but with treble so distorted it couldn’t be recognised). Thankfully, the rest of the gig was so good I didn’t really care; that night was just about being there witnessing some of the greatest artists to ever make music and being involved with the energy in the room. If Wu-Tang are performing in a town near you, make sure you get tickets because it’s not to be missed.