Wu-Tang Clan – Academy, Manchester – 3rd August 2010

Posted on August 6, 2010

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written for High Voltage

The Wu-Tang Clan are the absolute embodiment of true hip-hop. Despite some shaky record releases during their time, they continue to shine like a beacon of authenticity when compared with their contemporaries. There was a time when rappers were political activists and serious thinkers but the hip-hop world has become increasingly contaminated by commercial artists who lack any real substance, yet the Wu-Tang Clan are different. They tackle serious and delicate issues with aplomb, and they set their lyrics to dark, timeless beats that set an atmospheric backdrop to their work. With large periods of relative inactivity it is easy to forget just how strong the Wu-Tang’s material is, but tonight they descended on the Manchester Academy and offered a timely reminder of their quality, with a blistering performance from Staten Island’s finest providing further evidence that there is life in the Wu yet.

Much to the disappointment of many, one of the star names didn’t make it on to the stage here in Manchester. Method Man, who has a history of pull-outs, was nowhere to be seen, leaving the ‘Re-United in Full Force’ slogan that was used to promote the event seem somewhat flimsy. However, the stage was still awash with fine artists, and they performed classic tracks from their endless catalogue of hits. Early Clan numbers such as ‘Protect Ya Neck’, ‘Da Mystery of Chessboxin’ and ‘Bring Da Ruckus’ were particularly well received by the diverse audience, as were strong solo songs, such as GZA’s ‘Dual of the Iron Mic’. There was also a tribute to the late ODB, with back-to-back ‘Dirty’ tracks providing a fitting tribute to one of the most charismatic men ever to be involved in the hip-hop industry. Ultimately though, it was ‘Tearz’, taken from the band’s wonderful debut album ‘Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), that proved to be the highlight. With some of the most biting lyrics ever written, ‘Tearz’ cuts deep in the minds of any listener, and the fact that they are prepared to play such a song live is tribute to their intelligence.

The Wu-Tang Clan are far more than just a rap group; they are a collective of intelligent, astute businessmen who have created an enduring empire of music, clothing and film. Their vision and creation of a unique and serious brand of hip-hop has lived on and they still have a strong appeal with many different people. As the demarcation between Rap and RnB becomes progressively blurred, Wu-Tang acts as a grounded reminder of the humility that encompassed early rap music. If this Manchester performance is anything to go by then Wu-Tang Clan, most certainly, aint nothin to fuck with.

words by Rob Pollard                                                      photography by Sam Ellis


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Posted in: Music