Wu-Tang Clan (ODB Tribute Tour) @ First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
written by Christopher Poe - August 11th, 2006
"Wu- Tang, Wu-Tang". For what seemed like hours after the opening act (I-self-divine) left the stage, a hot and muggy crowd of diversity chanted for their hip hop heroes as they connected thumbs to signal the "W," perhaps as a way of drawing the Clan to materialize on the stage. The rumors of the Wu-Tang Clan showing up to venues with one or two members missing was beginning to become more likely in my blood-shot but wide-open eyes as every minute passed. A packed house full of sweating chanters and on-lookers were waiting in anticipation for the eight living original members of perhaps the greatest collection of MC's ever assembled. At that moment I was not yet aware that we were about to become the willing victims of an amazing attack of energy and lyrical brilliance.
The roaring crowd erupted when the legendary emcees started arriving on the stage at 11:10 p.m. just minutes after they were expected. They spilled onto the stage one at a time performing around one minute per emcee of tracks from solo efforts with the best performance coming from Ghostface of "Be This Way" off of his classic The Pretty Toney Album. Slowly the Clan was beginning to assemble piece by piece. After ten minutes of solo performances that introduced each emcee, U-God, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck, RZA, Raekwon, GZA, Ghostface Killah, and Method Man were suddenly all standing on stage together. Despite humors that they often don't show up to a city with all the members in action they had made it to Minneapolis fully assembled and fully ready to perform at their best.
They played all the crowd favorites and more. "Triumph", "Can It All Be So Simple" and "C.R.E.A.M". Some songs were only performed for half the song such as "C.R.E.A.M" which ended after Raekwon"s verse. The positions of each member was becoming more clear the longer they performed. Most people would probably say that Method Man controlled the stage and the crowd with his energy and perhaps popularity while yelling cliché emcee performance tactics such as "The same energy you give us, were gonna give it back to you".
However, the RZA was the master and commander of the show. Though he was often in the back or on the side of the stage when not rapping he seemed to be carefully analyzing the crowds energy and responses. And when he saw something he wanted to change he would come to the front and get the crowd more hyped. Ghostface, who many "heads" including myself believe is the greatest of all these amazing emcees seemed somewhat disappointed or shocked at the crowds response to his verses along with Raekwon for his. Perhaps Ghostface gets much more love from a crowd in New York that might better appreciate his brilliantly honest style. I wanted to hear much more from the critically acclaimed emcee but he was often interrupted by Method Man when he began to speak to the crowd. What impressed me was his calm attitude when this would occur. He would still back up Method Man immediately after being interrupted by him. Around 1:00 a.m. or so I was becoming surprisingly sober and the heat left me in desperate need of another beer but I couldn't leave the front of the stage where the Clan continued to kick the crowd's ass.
Towards the end of the show it seemed the crowd could barely take it anymore. Eight great emcees performing at their best was almost to much for the tired crowd to value and keep up with. Nevertheless, the crowd was giving all the energy they had left to the Clan. Method Man insisted that the crowd calmed down long enough to pay tribute to the late Ol' Dirty Bastard. They performed O.D.B.'s classic "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" as well as a part of "Brooklyn Zoo". All in all, the tribute was a short, sweet and a sincere honor to the most controversial and outspoken late member of the Clan.
As the show ended the crowd was nearly drained of energy during which RZA stood in the front of the stage promoting all of members solo or collaborative projects one by one. While promoting a kung fu movie that he composed a score for, he asked the crowd if they liked kung fu movies and the crowd erupted with an unusually agreeing reaction. A refreshingly honest Ghostface then stated "lying ass ni**as". The members of the Clan were filing off the stage just as the crowd was filing out of the venue like mindless sheep. First Ave was nearly half empty when the RZA started to freestyle by himself yelling, "As long as there's an emcee on stage, the show ain't over!" At around 2:00 a.m. the RZA had finally left the stage and I felt like I'd just got my ass kicked, mentally and physically. The show was amazing and packed with energy. They all showed up and proved that their intense skill exists on stage as well as in the studio. If the greatest collection of emcee/poets/philosophers of our time are coming to your town buy a f***in' ticket!