In the fantasy version of this gig that played out in my overactive imagination in the days leading up to it, the audience was going to be packed with blinged-out gangsters and hip-hop honeys, several people would be clasping jewel-encrusted goblets, and there would most likely be gunshots fired, or at the very least a knife fight would take place. The police would be called and the night would end in a riot, with half of the crowd being loaded into the back of police vans. However, I realised that it’s not every day that you get to see a member of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan take to the stage, so I leapt at the chance to see Ghostface Killah on this latest tour despite the impending disaster.
So I was vastly disappointed, and also more than a little relieved, when I arrived to find a couple of hundred suburban kids in their finest Wu-Tang merchandise getting down to the DJs who were spinning hip-hop classics from the likes of Biggie Smalls, Tupac, and Jay-Z. Getting into the Forum took a little longer than usual, as the powers-that-be obviously shared my paranoid vision of the crowd and insisted on frisking everyone who entered the building. After this I felt a little more gangster than usual, and sauntered in with my very best swagger down to the front of the show to patiently wait for Ghostface to arrive on stage. As it turns out, I was going to need all the patience I could muster.
From the moment we settled in an excitable MC was hyping the crowd by yelling, “Ghostface is in the house!!” Obviously he was in another part of the house, because this was followed by “… but first, I wanna introduce DOME to the stage! Some people call them ‘Do Me’, so welcome them for the first time in Sydney!!! DOME!” I am still unsure whether this was meant to be a hype-up, or a withering insult. You can decide that for yourself, as it didn’t seem to bother DOME, about whom I can find absolutely no information. They arrived on stage fresh faced and looking like they had just stepped out of a time machine set to 1986 and delivered a brief set of competent but ultimately dull rap, then disappeared to make way for a guy who takes out the award for laziest DJ in the universe. He simply slapped down the wax, plonked down the needle and promptly left the stage, not returning for another fifteen minutes or so. When he did return it was only to slap down another pre-mixed record, which didn’t make for much of a show.
The excitable MC kept reappearing periodically to assure all present that Ghostface was on his way, but the clock crept way past his advertised set time with no sign of the man himself. The delay dragged on and on. It wasn’t until just after 11:30 pm that Ghostface managed to drag himself on stage, and the collective relief was expressed through hollering and throwing Wu-Tang hand signs all over the place.
It was clear that the Wu-Tang connection was what had lured most of the audience to this show and Ghostface seemed to know this all too well, peppering his set liberally with material culled not only from the group’s back catalogue, but also from the solo works of other members of the clan. Stone classics like “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”, “Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit”, and “Can It All Be So Simple” were scattered amongst tracks from Ghostface’s considerable body of solo material.
His requisite posse of rappers did their best to keep up the hard-earned image of hard drinking and hard smoking outlaws by drinking Hennessy from the bottle, then lighting up a massive blunt and passing it round the stage. One member of the posse looked like they may have taken one hit too many, and spent most of the show looking a bit lost and skulking about the back of the stage with his hoodie pulled up over his head. Soon enough they started pulling the ladies up on stage to do a bit of booty dancing, but someone obviously miscalculated as one of the girls looked much more like she was having a fit. Every time a member of the posse started sidling up to her they’d take a second look and immediately run as fast as they could in the opposite direction. All of which was not only incredibly awkward, but also wildly hilarious.
Ultimately Ghostface put on a competent show, but came across as being virtually interchangeable with any other member of the Wu-Tang Clan. There wasn’t enough of himself in the show, but this didn’t seem to bother the crowd in the slightest, and they seemed more interested in the Wu-Tang material anyway, the strength of which makes it very hard to complain. Anyway, it gave the crowd a chance to show off how cleverly they could put their hands together to form a “W”, and none of us left the Forum feeling short-changed.
Except, of course, by the lack of gunfire and knife fights.