At the Commodore Ballroom on Thursday, March 7
Earlier this year, Method Man told a California crowd that he and the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan are cooking up an album to toast the 20th anniversary of their debut platter, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). While we’re no doubt some time off from actually hearing the thing, the New York rapper’s current concert tour pumped up the Commodore with a cross-section of Wu-related classics.
Opener Cityreal noted up front that he was ready to see some Wu-Tang action, but gladly ran through an opening set that repped Vancouver’s Battleaxe crew. Extra CanCon points went to “Liar”, which sampled Feist’s “The Limit to Your Love.”
Between acts—as Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Got Your Money” blared in the speakers, fittingly enough—a crowd of people swelled around some amateur B-boy action at the back of the room, which was mostly coming from one clown’s drunken blending of the Bartman and the Charleston. A guy in a brimmed toque stepped things up with supreme spin moves, while a woman in impossibly tight denim assaulted the floor with a scissor-kick routine, but it somehow always came back to the original offender. The more he showed off his flubbed footwork, the less the crowd had it in them to boo.
SonReal received a warmer reception with a quick set that bounced from ultra-positive pop-rap to half-sung post-Drake flows to bars about hopping on his skateboard. Regrettably, late in the performance SonReal swerved from his own songs into a mini-tribute to Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle”, but vroom-vroom it didn’t.
The audience was peppered with fans in Wu Wear by the time the locals wrapped things up, and a devoted sea of arms threw up “W” signs as soon as Method Man announced from the side of the stage, “Can I take you back to the ’90s one time?” Rocking a Yankees hat and Champion jacket, the gruff-voiced Wu God brought the hits out full force, running through “The Prequel” with a smile before setting the joint on fire with his eponymous track off Enter the Wu-Tang. While the bass-boomin’ chorus itself pointed out the fact the rest of the Clan were MIA, by the time the spitter was skipping an invisible jump rope to its spelled-out climax of “M-E-T-H-O-D Man”, the crowd was chanting along too hard to care.
Tical single “All I Need” was a sentimental pleaser specifically sent out to the ladies, but Mef admitted that his favourite song off the LP was the decidedly more hard-core “What the Blood Clot”. “You ain’t gotta dance,” he quipped, allowing that a simple head-bob to the jarring piano and gunshot-assisted beat was the route to go.
While the Clan was absent, long-time hype man Streetlife stood by Method Man’s side, at least when he wasn’t passing joints back and forth with the crowd. A velvet cloud of chronic smoke accrued in the Commodore as the pair blazed into “How High”, apparently still a potent cut. “Vancouver! I love your weed and I love your style,” Mef shouted, adding that, at least in his smoked-up haze, he may even love the Canucks.
The rap icon went back to the Wu-Tang catalogue with the moody, piano-flitting “C.R.E.A.M.”, and was left stunned when a good chunk of the club chanted out way more than just the “dolla dolla bill” hook. “That was good, that song is 20 years old and you know that shit. Thank you for that.” The Clan cuts kept coming, with “Shame on a Nigga” and “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit” finding the spitter playfully shimmying across the floor and letting out a mighty lion’s roar. Up next was a tender tribute to ODB, quickly countered with Meth demanding a mosh pit start up for the late rapper’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and “Brooklyn Zoo”.
After a brief pause, Method Man came back to the stage for a quick crack at “Gravel Pit”, but considering it excluded verses from Ghostface, U-God, and Raekwon, here’s hoping that alleged Wu-Tang anniversary LP brings the whole crew to town to play the jumped-up cut next time around.