Wu-Tang Clan at Epic, 1/9/11

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Photos by Tony Nelson
Wu-Tang Clan
January 9, 2011
Epic Nightclub


For a hip-hop collective with a back catalog as formidable as Wu-Tang Clan's, the potential is there, during a live performance, to just count on the fiery nature of your hits to carry you through a show. Playing the last gig of their winter Rebirth Tour at a full but not sold-out Epic on Sunday night (Monday morning, actually), the group came out with a lot of energy at the start that unfortunately fizzled out by show's end, leaving their fans with a lukewarm, unfocused set that really leaves one wondering about the current state of the Wu.

The sonic ringleader of the group, RZA, was defiantly and conspicuously absent on this tour, especially considering all of the disgruntled mutterings within the Wu camp about how unhappy they were with the sound and direction of their last album, 8 Diagrams. His presence would have brought some much needed continuity to the Wu's uneven, muddled performance, but the rest of the still impressive crew of MC's brought out a crateful of classics throughout their 80-minute set that were met with loud ovations from a crowd still trying to keep their energy level up late into the cold Minneapolis night.

The opening of the show, despite not getting going until nearly 1 a.m., was a blur of activity and intensity, as the group tore through "Bring Da Ruckus," "Shame On A N***A," "Clan In Da Front," and "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin' Ta Fuck Wit" that got the night off to a rousing start. But the sound mix was continually muddy throughout the set, with certain MC's mic's not loud enough to even hear their flow over the booming bass. GZA and Ghostface, in particular, both seemed to be rather disinterested during the show, leaving the other guys to do most of the heavy lifting. Method Man is generally always up for carrying a performance, and he did his best through the early stages of the show, but even he seemed worn out by the night's fitful end.

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Photos by Tony Nelson

The hits still kept coming, though in an abbreviated, truncated format that so many hip-hop artists favor in order to pack more songs into the show. So "Method Man," "Ice Cream," "Reunited," and "Protect Ya Neck," while not being the best live versions of the tracks I've ever seen the group do, were still able to soar simply based on the potency of the source material alone. After the group seemed to sleepwalk through a tepid version of "C.R.E.A.M.," Method Man stated that: "This is the point of the show dedicated to the memory of Ol' Dirty Bastard. I don't know if y'all are going to believe this, but ODB is physically in the building tonight." At which point they introduced ODB's first born son, Young Dirty Bastard, who came onstage to lead the group through a couple of his father's tracks, including "Shimmy Shimmy Ya." 

By this point, the crowd was thinning out and the group was, quite frankly, running out of steam. Even a spirited version of "Da Rockwilder" by Meth (which featured a shoutout to the Minnesota Twins afterward) failed to ignite a strange end to the show that didn't feature an encore or even a definitive last track, as the group randomly left the stage while a beat was still bumping and the sparse crowd was still up for more. They must have reached curfew, since it was 2 a.m. at this point, leaving us all to either head out into the cold or else get some Wu gear, which the band had no trouble peddling throughout the night, telling us to "Get something for your Grandma-fuck it, she likes the Wu-Tang Clan too." But, after a tired, pedestrian performance such as this one, there is no guarantee that their hardcore fan base in this city (or their grandparents) will bother to show up next time the Wu-Tang Clan rolls through town.

Critic's Bias: Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) is one of my favorite hip-hop records of all time, and was a constant staple on my stereo during my college years.

The Crowd: Substantial at the start of the set, but the later it got in the night, the more it thinned out.

Overheard In The Crowd: A woman practically crying when she found out RZA wasn't going to be there.

Random Notebook Dump: The sightlines and the sound mix at Epic are truly horrible, even in the supposed "V.I.P." section, where you still can only see about half of the stage.

For more photos: See our full slideshow by Tony Nelson, including shots of openers Muja Messiah, Maria Isa, Coughee Brothaz North, L.A.D., and Meta.


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9 comments
JillStJames
JillStJames

For the amount of money the charged - no excuses for such a poor performance. The whole act was "tired" and uneventful. What a drag...I will never go to their concert again and the opening acts were just as bad. What happened to real talent?

BeeBee21
BeeBee21

I went to a show earlier on this tour and EVERY LAST MEMBER (except rza) KILLED IT mef never lost energy same with ghost was very entergetic too. I think its just because it was the last show they were tired and just ready to go home. BUT with that said even though its the last show and they been on the road for more than a month the fans there still do deserve their best but again their only human we get tired you gotta cut them some slack.

LeslieC
LeslieC

Man, they need to find something else to do. All they do if think they are Jay-Z or Kanye. Find another job. Muja needs to find himself.

JohnG
JohnG

Maria Isa looks like hooker! What is the real deal? They sounded like shit.

Ty
Ty

Performers need to stop selling their shit when they're supposed to be performing. It's a surefire way to kill the mood. Has anyone ever bought a t-shirt because someone shouted a demand to do so into a microphone between songs?

sinsurly, disappointed
sinsurly, disappointed

Sound was terrible, but beyond that, holy shit were the openers terrible, with mujah being sole exception, and even he seemed less interesting than usual. mod-sun? that trance-hop set from whoever his name was? it's no wonder wu was uninterested and took till 1 to come on. I've seen wu tang tons of times, and last night went down as the worst, by far. Maybe bobby coulda saved it, if only we had a prince.

George
George

Man, I'm really glad I didn't go now! I don't know if I could've stayed awake for it, between the start time and what sounds like a tepid performance.

Kcchia80
Kcchia80

Right on about this show -- sound was horrible and Ghostface was more "now you don't" than "now you see me." That said, thought Meth really seemed appreciative of Wu fans and put on a show, as did Cappadonna and Masta Killah, during their limited chances to shine. More than anything, though, the sound pissed me off.

JessiePliego
JessiePliego

No kidding. What a waste of money. Wu seemed very uninterested. It is like a high school concert - everybody wants to be on stage but not perform worth a shit. Man, what a waste of money....I am so mad at myself.

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