On Friday and Saturday. August 17th and 18th, I
headed down to Webster Hall to check out hip-hop veterans Wu Tang Clan. Let me
start off by saying I've never been to a show where more free shit was handed
out. Posters, Cd's and stickers. Even Rhymefest gave his sneakers away.
Speaking of Rhymefest, he was the opening act.
I was looking forward to his performance; unfortunately he didn't have much to offer the crowd. He talked more than he performed and when he did perform he was either free styling or performing a one-minute snippet of a song. There was no continuity or flow in his set. On top of that he name-dropped Kanye West and Jesus Walks more times then I could count. At one point he informed the crowd that Kanye would not be making an appearance. I wasn't sure if the crowd was upset or happy at this news. One song he did play which was a major crowd pleaser was a song he recorded with ODB, Build Me Up.
After an hour wait the lights went out and the
WU stormed the stage with a rush of energy. Seeing all the original members
(minus ODB) on stage is an awesome experience.
Wu Tang didn't mess around and played only the hits, leaning heavily on Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Solo material such as 4th Chamber and Ice Cream were sprinkled throughout the set. The only problem on night one was the sound, which was teeeeeerible. Microphone feedback was the main culprit. At one point Raekwon got frustrated and said, and I'm paraphrasing, "Yo, this sound system sucks!" So, for all of you who attend indie rock shows at Webster Hall, you can now quote Raekwon when discussing the merits of Webster Hall's sound system. I quickly got over the sound in time to witness a beautiful moment. Method man asked the crowd for a moment of silence in memory of ODB. He exclaimed that, "we're not mourning ODB's death but celebrating his life." After the moment of silence Method Man brought out ODB's mom for a round of ODB chants.
The Clan then led everyone in a rendition of
Shimmy Shimmy Ya and Brooklyn Zoo. After ODB's tribute it was time for Wu tang
to bust out their ladies on the stage gimmick. Basically, they ask all the
ladies to come up on stage to dance and molest them. It’s safe to say that the
ladies love Ghostface because multiple women were molesting him. At one point
he had to run away from the onslaught of hands. Here's
an example from a Ghostface show earlier this year. Conversely, the RZA,
like a horny old man, was chasing ladies all over the stage. Speaking of The
RZA, after performing 4th Chamber he addressed the crowd. He was talking
about knowledge and positivity and it all made sense until he started talking
about mathematics, philosophy and the hundred and forty four thousand chosen.
He started to sound like one of those nutty militant men that hang out in Times Square and shout nonsense at tourists. Something tells me he was under the influence because his verses were sloppy and his performance was spotty at best. As Wu Tang wrapped up their set and walked off the stage I couldn't help but feel that they had an even better performance in them.
Night two was a full-blown hip/hop show that
made the previous night feel like a dress rehearsal. Wu Tang added to the buzz
by bringing out martial arts performing Shaolin Monks to entertain the crowd.
The evening continued with Lord Jamar as the opener. It was a short, but respectable set from the hip-hop veteran. Towards the end of his set he brought out Sadat X and the crowd went wild. Lord Jamar + Sadat X = Brand Nubian! Of course they performed Punks Jump up to get Beat Down, which sounded just as good as it did in 93'.
After Lord Jamar/Brand Nubian exited the stage, Ed Lover of Yo! MTV raps fame was up to bat. He slammed all the latest hip-hop video shows on TV (BET) and made fun of a few rappers. (T.I. I think) He then proceeded to whip the crowd into a frenzy. We were ready for Wu Tang to hit the stage; unfortunately Wu Tang didn't come on for another hour.
After a long wait Wu Tang finally hit the stage.
Each member came out one at a time to one of his solo hits. It was a Wu Tang
roll call with Method Man and Ghostface being the last two out. After each
member got their minute in the spotlight they went straight into Method Man,
and never looked back. Over the two nights they played everything off of 36
Chambers except, Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber and Clan in da Front. On
night two, they almost ran through every song on 36 chambers. As far as guest
appearances go, Redman came out for the second night in a row and proceeded to
recklessly launch himself into the adoring crowd. Meth and Red have an
undeniable chemistry on stage together and both possess the ability to hype a
Speaking of Method Man, once again he was leading the charge. You can't really say Wu Tang has a leader or captain, but for all intents and purposes Method Man is that guy. He supplied all of the energy by jumping into the crowd repeatedly and pumping his fists and arms non-stop. If Method brought the energy, Ghostface brought the smoothness and swagger. Method Man and Ghostface, more than any other Wu tang member exhibited the most confidence and gusto on stage. They are clearly the super stars in Wu Tang Clan.
Once again Wu Tang brought all the ladies on stage. Like I mentioned earlier, if you've seen Wu Tang or Ghostface you know how this gimmick works.
It can be a tad boring if you've seen it before but tonight’s show had a little twist. There weren't enough ladies in the audience and the pickings were slim. This did not sit well with Ghostface and by the end of Cherchez LaGhost he told the ladies to "Get the hell off the stage" and led the crowd in chant of "get the hell off the stage."
One has to marvel at Wu tang's longevity. This
isn't a group that tolerates each other to tour and collect a check. They
genuinely enjoy performing together on stage. There are no egos and each member
constantly defers to other. It truly is amazing to see a group with so many
members, who are superstars in their own right, last this long and continue to
maintain friendships and working relationships. The fans showed their
admiration Friday and Saturday by throwing their W's in the air and singing
along to every single song and Wu Tang gave it right back informing the crowd
that they're working on their next album.
Wu Tang Clan - Triumph @ Webster Hall 8/17/06
Wu Tang Clan - Method Man @ Webster Hall 8/17/06
Bring Da Ruckus and Da Mystery of Chessboxin' Videos @ Webster Hall 8/18/06
Photos: Wu Tang Clan 8/17/06
Photos: Wu Tang Clan 8/18/06
Photos: Ghostface Killah 4/22/06