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Live Review: Wu-Tang Clan @ Riverstage, Brisbane

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It wasn’t hard to tell where everyone was going in Brisbane last Friday night. Everywhere you looked there were droves of people decked out in Wu-Tang Clan merch and even the odd homemade t-shirt with ‘Bring Da Ruckus’ scrawled across in puffy, glitter paint. But not one of these well-dressed individuals left the Riverstage disappointed as the Wu-Tang Clan, over 20 years after the release of their debut album, proved they can still bring their own unique brand of ruckus.

Melbourne MC Nico Ghost kicked things off and proved he was one to keep an eye on. He was followed up by fellow Melbourne rapper Ivan Ooze. Clearly unfazed by the controversy surrounding his selection as support act, he brought a frantic energy and infectious excitement with tracks District 9 and Fire. Ooze definitely kicked things up a notch but the crowd were clearly there for one thing and one thing only.

And soon enough RZA emerged to lay down some ground rules, telling the crowd ”whatever energy you give to us, we will give back to you”, before gifting us with a mantra that more than a few will be quoting from now on, ”If you’re not here to have a good time, you are wasting your time.” With DJ Mathematics on the decks, RZA was then joined by Ghostface Killah, GZA, Raekwon, and Masta Killa as they launched in to Bring Da Ruckus, the first track from their 1993 debut ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’.

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This served as a pretty good indication of what was to come as, despite touring their 2014 release A Better Tomorrow, the Wu predominately treated the crowd to a lot of old favourites including Clan In Da Front, C.R.E.A.M., and Can It All Be So Simple. This is what the crowd wanted and when it was time for Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F*ck Wit they chanted relentlessly while proudly holding up their Ws.

In between tracks, the charisma of these five individuals was on full display however they also took the time to highlight the talents of DJ Mathematics. He gave us all a brief yet impressive education in the art of scratching which included spinning records with his feet and jaws hitting the floor.

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The crowd was also treated to some of the group members’ solo efforts, including GZA’s 4th Chamber and Raekwon’s Ice Cream. RZA once again took control, leading the crowd in a rendition of The Beatle’s Come Together before playing a little Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit. It was a bit odd but most long-haired punters appreciated the opportunity to put their manes to good use.

As their hour and a half set began to wind down, the Wu took some time to remember David Bowie, Tupac, Biggie Smalls as well as Earth, Wind, and Fire’s Maurice White but the mood wasn’t sombre; the crowd cheered and grew even louder as they continued into Shimmy Shimmy Ya, a tribute to their own Ol’ Dirty Bastard.  

All too soon it was 10pm, the Riverstage’s curfew, and those familiar trumpets echoed up the hill as they launched into their final song Gravel Pit. Faces lit up and the crowd collectively lost their minds. The crowd was quite obviously itching for more but it just wasn’t going to happen. Instead they gave a resounding cheer for the promoters who managed to pull the whole thing off but then it was all over.

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The show was amazing and despite the absence of key members (most notably Method Man) the group managed to bring the same raw energy and intensity found on their 1993 debut. But what was truly impressive was their ability to translate the atmospheric qualities of their albums into a truly captivating live experience without extensive visuals or lightshows, but purely through their own charisma and showmanship. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another five years for the next tour.

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