Filled with the riotous anticipation of fans, some who had waited years for this moment, the House of Blues at the Anaheim Gardenwalk reached a fever pitch in the hour preceding Wu-Tang Clan’s performance. A quick slew of openers sought to hype up the crowd, with both rappers Hugh Hefner and Killer Priest giving short but riveting goes on the microphone. But with every one person in the venues brandishing the now iconic black and yellow Wu t-shirt, it wasn’t easily forgettable who crowds came to see Friday night. With Wu performances becoming an ever increasing rarity, as solo endeavors by its members becoming the more prominent event, the rap group’s appearance was made all the more significant.
For anyone who’s been afforded the opportunity to see the members perform onstage together, the most affecting piece of their live show is the way the collective manages to juggle the lyric duties of everyone onstage. There’s no room for garnish or embellishment when you have the entirety of the Wu sharing the stage and microphone together, and the bare-nosed lack of theatricality is replaced by the razor-sharp precision with which the group delivers its bars. Within their opening song, each member received their own entrance, delivering their rhymes as they walked onstage–once there, they engulfed even the massive House of Blues stage and seemed to tower over the crowd. Passing microphone duties to one another with a near mechanical efficiency, Wu-Tang harkens back to a time when hip-hop was as much performance art as music, more urban spoken-word than pop-culture phenomenon.
From RZA to GZA, each member took their turn center stage to deliver the versatile ferocity of their respective lines, inciting the crowd with each pass along the edge of the stage as the other members danced and kept the hype going in a semi-circle behind them. No pyrotechnic or light-show extravaganza–all the Wu needs to thrive is to be put on a stage in front of their fans.
Words & Photos: Steven Ward
Wu-Tang Clan perform tonight in San Diego, then up next in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Palladium this Thursday, March 23. Grab your tickets here.