Before air horns, before all a song needed was a one liner on repeat, and before lyrics were convenient rhymes emphasizing superficial matters there existed poetic and clever verses with substance revealing real narratives of life. How does one prepare for 20 years’ worth of classics from the most revolutionary group of hip hop? I was anxious to meet history face-to-face.
In building anticipation of their upcoming album, A Better Tomorrow, the Wu-Tang Clan had the house packed. Out came the members and each of them sported a bright yellow letter, spelling “Wu Tang”. Method Man was noticeably absent from the crew but the force of RZA, GZA, Raekwon, U-God, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa and Cappadonna were enough to kill it.
The thundering bass from “Bring da Ruckus” pulsed through me to kick off the night. The impact that Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers had on their fans was expressed from the explosive reactions each time a track from the album came on, especially “C.R.E.AM.”. GZA showed his fan appreciation and autographed caps nonchalantly as the rest of the group performed “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber”.
I must say the Orpheum Theatre was a fitting choice as it is a timeless venue that complements influential entertainers in their own right. Just imagine eight large men sprawled out on stage spitting explicit lines, laced with profanity and MJ fog contrasted against the backdrop of one of the most elegant architectural masterpieces in Vancouver more known to occupy orchestras.
The intensity of Wu-Tang naturally garnered the most energy I have ever experienced at any concert. As soon as the crowd was compared to Winnipeg they only got fiercer. Among champagne sprays, asking fans what they wanted to hear and looking for their own photo ops there was total engagement. The high point of the night for me was after “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” when RZA paid tribute to ODB by sharing his fetish with women which then led to “Baby I Got Your Money”. With Wu-Tang signs thrown up the love in the room was abundant and the intimate vibe was contagious. RZA was right when he said, “Power of music brings people together”. I have never heard an assembly of humans rap/sing/chant along in unison so strongly.
Despite the poor audio quality I don’t think anyone minded. Wu-Tang Clan’s mere presence was an experience of its own. Just like their signature raw back-to-basics sound, the show needed no special stage effects, imagery or choreography. Simply some lights, a DJ (DJ Mathematics no less) and a few legends made more out of less because Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nuthing ta f*ck wit.