WU-YEAR'S EVE at CERVANTES' | 12/31/13 The last night of 2013 was spent with the three most recognizable faces of the Wu-tang Clan: Ghostface, Method Man and Raekwon. The three demonstrated virtuosity and vibrance, delivering a memorable performance in front of a capacity crowd. Much of the evening was dedicated to the celebration of the end of marijuana prohibition, with Method Man calling the laws "beautiful." Pulling from solo hits and collective classics, the trio rocked for over an hour, only touching a portion their lengthy catalogue. "To be honest," Method Man explained, "we didn't have a plan when we came out here. We said, 'Let's just have fun.'"
The performance was candid and intimate, especially during the performance of "Triumph," as each MC took turn performing the missing MC's verses on the track. Ghost delivered on the difficult RZA verse of the song, seeming to surprise the crowd and his fellow Wu members, who lit up with smiles as he provided every word flawlessly. This was a fitting snapshot of the night as a whole; each MC took turns spotlighting their own classics hits, along with all the signature Wu-tang tracks.
Method, who acted as the host of the evening, dominating the majority of the night's set, started off performing "M.E.T.H.O.D. Man." Addressing the crowd before he started, "Can I take you back to the '90s? Can I do some '90s shit?" Meth looked right at home at Cervantes, jumping right onto the speakers, and crowd surfing to end his first song. Raekwon then took time next to rock "Incarcerated Scarfaces" from Only Built for Cuban Linx, before Ghostface ignited the crowd with, "Apollo Kids," from his album Supreme Clientele.
The trio flawlessly moved with each other through solo material; Method took over on "Bring the Pain" and rocked the album version of "You're All I Need," while Ghost kept it Supreme with a few verses from "Ghost Deni." The crowd's support of Ghostface's solo material showed he is still one of the most popular of the Wu. Showing appreciation back to the crowd, he ended his song with, "Denver, this is the shit I like." The group's catalog is so extensive and intertwined with features from each MC, the three jumped back and forth from group material to solo album cuts like Raekwon's, "New Wu" and "Ice Cream" seamlessly.
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The group also stopped twice to pay tribute to those who passed, first Jam Master Jay, as DJ Mathematics went into a short DJ set, and later they gave it up for ODB. When the DJ started the intro to, "C.R.E.A.M." the crowd went crazy and Raekwon stepped forward to showcase his signature first verse, before all three rocked the chorus. Then Meth once again stopped to address the crowd, "Hey on this one, y'all start the mosh pit and I'll come in with y'all," he declared before starting a chant of, "ODB! ODB!" That led to "I Like it Raw," with Method asking the crowd if he should continue his tribute to the deceased rapper before dropping into, "Brooklyn Zoo," which enthralled the full house, which sang along impeccably with every word.
Before continuing their tribute to ODB, Ghostface delighted the crowd with "Cherchez La Ghost." Then the group spent the next ten minutes trying to find someone in the crowd to sing his part to "Protect Ya Neck," which resulted in a failed a capella attempt by the first would be rapper, before a latino guy in his late 40s performed his verse to perfection; this seemed to delight Ghostface, who gloated, "I knew it, I knew it."
"We're all over forty on this stage," Meth pointed out as the crew went into the last couple songs of the show. "So y'all should be able to keep up with us." Meth then went into "Da Rockwilder," with the crowd taking the place of Redman. The trio ended the night with the captivating performance of maybe their most recognizable track, "Triumph," with each taking a shot at the missing MC's verses to the delight of the crowd. After Ghostface rocked his verse on the song, an a capella started Raekwon's verse, with the crowd singing every word of his verse as his part came to a roaring end.
Although there were plenty of songs left out, the renditions performed here were seamless. The MCs left an indelible impression that the three of them could rock a set with no beat, on any street corner, just for kicks.
Personal Bias: A long-time Wu-tang fan, I was delighted by the selection of songs but also disappointed by the omission of my favorite B-sides and solo hits. Random Detail: Wu-Tang affiliate Streetlife received a good amount of stage time and served as the hype man for the group. By the Way: Earlier in the evening, the Foodchain turned in a lengthy 45-minute set with great energy, Dizzy Wright's DJ Hoppa held space for about an hour riling up the crowd with mash-ups and classic cuts, and IZM White rocked the crowd with Rhyme Kryme Family teammate Creepy Loc as his hype man, dropping a couple new tracks.
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