Wu Legends @ O2ABC, 12 July
If there’s one glaring factor that might stand to soil the Wu-Tang Clan’s legacy, it’s a no-show. Here tonight under the ‘Wu Legends’ banner as a compact touring unit, it seems the 90s rap monoliths (or at least their booking agent) have finally realised the damage the arbitrary absence of constituent members has done to both the expectations of fans and their diminishing currency as a live act.
With Meth and Deck AWOL, it's on GZA, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon to stroll through a 50 minute set of classic bangers (dwelling heavily on Liquid Swords) and obscurities from their collective vault. "There's too many joints," says Rae, almost apologetically. From his own Criminology and Ghostface co-hosted Ice Cream to the Clan’s Mystery of Chessboxin’ – for which GZA steps out of the shadows to respectfully handle his late cousin ODB’s verse – the trio dole out five hits in as many minutes. "Where the fuck am I at?" frowns Ghostface, stopping the set to demand the crowd up their game.
In a measured performance, Duel of the Iron Mic is the one incendiary moment where all three MCs gather center stage and throw the gloves off. The tempo eases as Ghost pulls up a chair, leaning forward to tell stories from Supreme Clientele, before they turn the bass up for Crash Your Crew – a buried gem from GZA’s Beneath the Surface – and take a slightly dubious stab at Rae’s more recent crack-slanging anthem Rock’n’Roll.
An all-too-brief flash of C.R.E.A.M., Can It Be All So Simple and Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuttin Ta Fuck Wit reiterate the timeless soul and diversity of their debut, before the sprawling Triumph recalls a Clan at the height of their powers. "That's the best rap group you're gonna git, it’s been written," insists Rae with ruthless confidence; Ghost, meanwhile, gets caught up in hawking t-shirts before the curfew seems them out. Hustlers to the end.