By: Mehek Seyid (@whatthemehek) –
It’s typical of most fans to dream of their ideal concert for any of their favourite artists, a dream that is usually focused on what songs they would perform. There is always that hope that maybe, just maybe, you will get to hear that perfect song that will be a memory to last a lifetime. Last night at Kool Haus, hip-hop fans found their memory in the form of Wu-Tang Clan, who were in Toronto to celebrate their twentieth anniversary by performing the entirety of their iconic debutalbum Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers.
Enter The Wu-Tang is credited as a classic album, not just for the swift, cutting lyrical talents of the group, but also the minimalistic, gritty production courtesy of member RZA. This type of sound became a creative characteristic central to hip-hop, making Wu-Tang Clan pioneers of the genre and one of the most respected groups to date. Enter The Wu-Tangis a major part of the foray into the genre for most fans, both old and new, and is a cornerstone to many individuals’ interactions with hip-hop. This significance explains the impatience of the audience at last night’s show, who Wu-Tang treated to an hour delay while members pre-gamed back stage.
Any frustrations with the late start disappeared as soon as Wu-Tang Clan appeared on stage. They jumped into their set with the opening song from Enter The Wu-Tang, “Bring Da Ruckus”, which revived the spirits of audience members, and inspired mists of marijuana, and provoked havoc across the venue, which was completely sold out. Although RZA’s absence disappointed much of the crowd, the fans’ enthusiasm grew as the reality that all of the other remaining members were performing together in Toronto for the first time started to set in. It helped that Wu-Tang members matched their fans and their excitement, who were consistently interacted with fans, vibed to their own music, and delivered their timeless rhymes with as much ease and flow as they did twenty years ago when they first launched their careers.
Method Man was particularly successful at this, who acted as the group’s liaison for the majority of the evening. His stage persona is well developed, cheeky at times, and filled with humorous, over-the-top facial expressions. At one point he even began passing the blunt he was smoking to a pocket of fans near the corner of the stage, before be continued his antics, which included a precisely rapped, quick-tempo rendition of “M.E.T.H.O.D. Man” which was extremely well-received by the audience. A highlight included his performance of his hit collaboration with Redman, “Da Rockawilder”, which he ended by singing the “la la la la”’ with fans before he flipped around and dove in into a sea of pumped fans to crowd surf.
This is a testament to the fact that Wu-Tang’s legacy extends beyond their work as a group. Many of the members have found success in their own careers as solo artists, producers, or in the case of GZA, who recently lectured at the University of Toronto, academics. This too was celebrated last night when Ghostface Killah performed “Mighty Healthy” from his solo album, Supremere Clientele and Raekwon shared his song “Surgical Gloves”, with the crowd’s assistance who helped him to recall the lyrics he had momentarily forgotten.
But the group never lost sight of the weight of Enter The Wu-Tang, especially when they took time to remember their fallen member, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, as they lifted a spray painted image of the rapper above their heads during a portion ofthe show. ODB had some of the most pivotal verses on their debut album, including his intro on “Shame On A N***a” and “Protect Ya Neck”, both of which were performed during last night’s set. Nothing could beat seeing “C.R.E.A.M.” live, allowing Inspectah Deck, a much subtler performer compared to the big personalities of Method Man, Raekwon andGhostface Killah, to make one of the best moments of the night.
Every party has its faults. Sometimes the mics were too low, sometimes the bass was excessive, but it didn’t matter. The mere presence and sight of a legendary group, who has had such a significant impact not just in music, but also in so many people’s lives, was more than enough to compensate for such lapses during their performance because it was not about having a technically perfect show. Last night’s event was not even just about celebrating Wu Tang’s anniversary. It was about demonstrating why their movement will continue for years to come. Judging by the starry-eyed looks and endless “Oh My Gods”, the looks and sounds of satisfaction, the message was definitely received, and will be carried on by their loyalists.
Local rapper Peter Jackson opened for Wu-Tang Clan. Performing for over half an hour, Jackson brought his brand of hip-hop to the audience, which groovy guitar rhythms enhanced and featured appearances by his entire crew, who threw merchandise and copies of his album into the crowd. Performances of “I Don’t Give A Fuck” and “Can’t Get Enough” evoked some of the larger responses during his set, one which he executed with a great deal of energy and love for the city. It would have been nice to have him return to the stage during the extended gap, but he too was probably ready for a night of nostalgia.