Ghostface swooped through Denver over the weekend for a performance at Summit Music Hall with Sheek Louch, Black Pegasus and Liquid Assassin. The venue, with its blue lights and dark interior, created the perfect basement-style atmosphere the hip-hop party-goers were aiming for.
Black Pegasus opened the show but was brought back out for a time-filler second performance with his affiliate Liquid Assassin. The pair definitely engaged the crowd, but there were moments of choreography that -- especially considering how sparse dancing can be in this head-nodding-type crowd -- should have been received with enthusiasm but was really more of a distraction. Liquid Assassin's flow was definitely worth the time to showcase.
Next up was Sheek Louch. Although an argument can be made that the Lox are an example of one of rap's better ideas, Sheek is far from the most dynamic member. Compared to Jadakiss, with his tongue-twisting rhymes and brash delivery, and Styles P., with his relatable gangsta appeal, Sheek has always been, well, underwhelming.
That said, it was really no surprise that he wheeled out a tired performance with medleys of tracks long played out in faux basement parties everywhere. "All About the Benjamins" barely scratched the surface that it used to, and the most immediate lines of "I'm trying to cop those colossal-sized Picassos" made a small dent in the exterior of the wall of excitement. For the most part, however, the stage show was disappointing.
Matters weren't helped when he gave about ten minutes' too much time to his hype man for several exponentially awful bars over Biggie songs as he waved around a towel trying to drum up a thrill. A further call to "bring out your titties" was backed with the more noted song from the Ruff Ryder days, "Ride or Die Bitch," which was met with bare-chested approval from several ladies in the front row.
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The highest note from Sheek's performance was his verse on "Last Day," a track from Notorious B.I.G's Life After Death, which seemed to bring him out of his shell and allowed us to see a more vibrant performance from him. But by this time, his set was pretty much over.
Ghostface's performance started off on a lively note as he stepped out and greeted the crowd with a fresh face and clean cut. Donning a toboggan turned askew, Pretty Toney started running through tracks from Fishscale and More Fish, offering up the more famous lines of his career with the signature grit and high notes his voice is known for.
The mood turned sour, though, when Ghost had to admonish the soundman on several occasions. Declaring that the mishaps gave him bad energy, he looked to the crowd for agreement, saying, "I love y'all motherfuckers, man. They better get these shits right. It makes me angry." The DJ did what he could to provide the back end sound support, and the show went on with the typical Wu-Tang tribute and mash-up of several songs from Ghost's catalogue.
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The center of the charisma definitely belonged to Ghostface, but it seemed as if he was reserving the shine for a new string of all-stars. When performing posse cuts like "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nothing to Fuck With," he let his hype men take the lead, at one point even giving up his microphone and choosing to play the background.
He rocked through Supreme Clientele as though he could do those songs in his sleep and took several moments to give Colorado props for supporting him through the years. Ghostface's stage show doesn't change, and whether that's good or bad, his excitement to deliver it doesn't change, either. And there's one thing he's sure of, as he pointed out a few times: "Colorado, I KNOW you love me!"
Click through for Critic's Notebook and a few more pics
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: Wu-Tang is forever and ever and ever. By The Way: Opt-Won of Isolated Generation told me he's about to put out an '80s mixtape covering beats from Tears for Fears, among others. Random Detail: "Cher Chez La Ghost" never gets old.