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Wu-Tang Clan gig review

Lynda Moyo finds that fan loyalty isn’t exclusive to Wu-Tang at the Academy

Written by . Published on August 4th 2010.

Wu-Tang Clan gig review

Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to f*ck with. They’re hip-hop gold dust in an age where many rappers see platinum as the only prize. Wu-Tang know better. Eighteen years in the game with both underground credibility and commercial success to their name means that a sold out gig at Manchester Academy is just another day at the office for the clan.

It’s no wonder then, that upon arrival in Manchester, they headed straight to the Arndale to get their hair cut, pick up some Manchester United souvenirs and a couple of packs of cigars. They only managed to find the first two though, as the tobacconist was closed. That shop owner will have been kicking himself this morning.

Freshly trimmed and with Raekwon kitted out in an ill-fitting United away shirt, Wu-Tang hit an overcast Academy slightly later than schedule, replacing local warm-up act, Broke ‘n’ English. By overcast, I am of course referring to the velvety, purple mist coating the crowd and the sight of irritated security guards dragging young lads out by their joints, quite literally.

Still, this is Wu-Tang and most fans were under the assumption that the leader of the pack, Method Man, was missing from the stage due to getting turned back at customs, as quite a few US rappers have done in the past. It’s almost expected, so the smoking of joints was no doubt in the missing member’s honour rather than a delayed rebellion against the smoking ban. Apparently though, Method Man was actually busy filming US drama CSI in New York. Now that wasn’t worth getting thrown out for, was it?

Meth’s absence didn’t discourage the mosh pit though, which, like most hip-hop CDs, should come with a security warning. A sweatbox of uber-energy and expletives as classics such as ‘C.R.E.A.M’, ‘Triumph’ and 'Can It Be All So Simple' boomed from what many felt was an even better sound system than at the impressive Apollo gig back in 2007.

The crowd was predominantly rowdy male rap addicts hitting the air with intermittent ‘W’ signs, but there was no shortage of female groupies either, as I read on a friend’s Facebook status update this morning: ‘...is wondering how that girl who was on the guys shoulders with her tits out at the Wu gig is feeling this morning!’

RZA and Ghostface Killah led an initially confusing-looking clan through much of the group’s first album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), in front of what looked like an on-stage bar. There seemed to be an awful lot of them, but after a quick head count it was a stage of seven including GZA, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa and Raekwon, who opted to swig on a 1.75 litre carton of Tropicana throughout the entire show despite the Champagne and Henny on tap. Word.

There was also another notable missing face, not through extra-curricular activities like Meth, but due to the fact that in 2004, Wu-Tang lost their most absurd and funny member, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, to a drug overdose. Lights were dimmed as the group absorbed every ounce of their fallen friend. Fans sang along to his big solo hits ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ and ‘Got your Money’. It was the only moment of calm and was a touching reminder of the respect the fans have for Wu-Tang.

That respect was evident throughout; in the Wu-Tang chants, tattoos and branded clothing proudly on display across the Academy. It was the fans that really made this gig the show it was. They were, after all, sold the gig as ‘Wu-Tang Clan- reunited in full force’, only to find out on the night that arguably the most distinctive and successful member was a no-show. Method Man’s absence left an obvious void in the vocals despite much compensating from RZA, and the fans could have revolted. They could have asked for their £35 back. But no one so much as Wu-whined.

Finishing with their commercial crossover hit ‘Gravel Pit’ after a seemingly cropped 45 minute show due to their lateness, the crowd wanted more and probably deserved it too, although they did announce several times that ‘there’s an afterparty at the Midland,’ much to the hotel’s delight, I’m sure.

There was no encore and so groups of fans rushed to try and get backstage, probably to find out which room at the Midland to go to. Many waited around eagerly for autographs and pictures as Ghostface Killah et al cracked open the Absolut vodka. One middle-aged, burly looking bloke queued to ask Raekwon for a photo, as others made reference to the United shirt that Raekwon was still proudly sporting.

Clearly a die-hard City fan as well Wu-Tang follower, the big bloke took a step back.“There’s no way I’m having my photo taken with THAT,” he said, pointing at the offending shirt, “I’d rather go without”. And off he went, out of the VIP area and home to burn his Wu-Tang posters.

City fans ain’t nothing to f*ck with either, it would seem.

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