The Wu-Tang Clan packed their two Hammerstein Ballroom shows this week, but they didn’t exactly stage a triumphant comeback. Despite a remarkable new album, 8 Diagrams, the prevailing attitude is that the group has descended into the ranks of nostalgia acts. And the feeling’s understandable, given, among other things, the seemingly intractable inter-Wu beef — both RZA and the tracks off 8 Diagrams, which he produced, have been absent from the tour.
It’s only RZA’s show in the studio, though; live, it’s Method Man and the Wuettes. Last night, the second show, Meth was his usual animated self, crowd-walking (crowd-surfing upright, that is), bouncing, synchronized style, with whoever was in the spotlight, and even nonchalantly tossing Ghostface a mike from across the stage. Even better, though, was during an Inspectah Deck verse, when the rest of the crew ducked down in respect, looking like ninjas ready to pounce. (And we couldn’t get enough of Ghost’s Coca-Cola polo — dude’s been saving up those UPCs!)
During the ODB tribute, Meth trotted out what appeared to be Dirty’s entire extended family; the crowd screamed “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” and the Jones family screamed it right back. The warm fuzzies were flying later, too, as Raekwon professed his love for New York. But then after the set-closing “Triumph,” there was Diddy, tossing up the W, and Tracy Morgan, once again doing nothing to distinguish himself from his 30 Rock alter ego. Rae took the opportunity to declare that “Wu still play a major part in hip-hop.” He seemed as unsure as the rest of us. —Amos Barshad