Wu-Tang Clan live @TheHMVForum, London | Gig Review

The sign outside the HMV Forum ticket office reads, “due to unforeseen circumstances, RZA, Raekwon and Inspektah Deck aren’t able to perform tonight, refunds are available.” This is not the first time the Wu have performed as a group with a few members missing in action and probably won’t be the last. However the starting line-up has a few all stars in the form of Method Man and Ghostface so the show goes on without too many grumbles from the masses in attendance tonight. The packed venue suggests not many took up the refund option.

Once inside, rapper Hyro Da Hero backed by his five-piece band are making an almighty punk inspired racket onstage. Unfortunately for all their energy and musical proficiency, the sound emanating from the speakers is a blur of noise with thunderous drums and squealing guitar licks drowning out any lyrical impact. After a passionate rant deriding the growing number of popular auto-tune rinsing rappers, Hyro Da Hero and band exit stage left to the sound of howling feedback and scattered applause from an audience who largely shared his anti-pop sentiments.

DJ Semtex spins ’90s Hip Hop classics and current hits to an increasingly impatient gathering of Wu-Tang masses until the familiar sound of the infamous “The Shaolin and the Wu Tang could be dangerous” vocal sample signals the entrance of Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Masta Killah, U-God and GZA to “Bring Da Ruckus” to the stage. Two things’ immediately becomes obvious; GZA’s mic doesn’t work and the Forum’s overall sound has not improved at all over the years with only Ghostface’s high-pitched delivery being clearly audible through the Glastonbury monsoon mud of a p.a. sound projection.

Although the missing Clan members shorten the length of certain classic songs, the onstage chemistry is still evident with Method Man and Ghostface taking centre stage whilst other members play supporting roles ducking and waiving from the background into the foreground as the songs change. The hyper energetic performance of “Method Man” complete with the man in question standing on top of the crowd and crowd surfing proves to be the highlight of a show from one of the few true character’s left in Hip Hop.

The amusing sight of Ghostface grooving to the beat with his jeans way below his waistline, somehow defying the laws of gravity to stay up while he delivers his classic verse to GZA’s “4th Chamber” to induce a crowd jumping frenzy is another highlight. During a break in set, DJ Mathematics got his chance to shine with an inventive scratch routine involving Method Man’s trainer and the use of a few toes to flick the cross fader back and forth between the records. Somewhere above the clouds, Jam Master Jay is nodding with approval.

Spirited audience lead versions of “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and “Brooklyn Zoo” along with Meth’s comedic English accent introduction was a fitting tribute to the deceased and much missed genius of Ol Dirty Bastard. Performances of seminal Wu hits, “C.R.E.A.M,” “Da Mystery of Chess Boxing,” crowd favourite “Gravel Pit” and the rousing set closer “Triumph” complete with all verses in tact, prove that even with a depleted squad the Wu still have sufficient strength in depth to deliver a dope show.

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