The reply was an assertive, unanimous “yes”. Lighters raised and joints low to the floor, Wu-Tang Clanners answered Method Man with a giant cloud of hip hop haze. Although this question was asked once by the man on stage, it was answered many, many, many times throughout the night. The Commodore Ballroom was swallowed in smoke, and the chanting buzz of “WU WU WU” was the heartbeat of a pulsing wave of two-handed Ws.
Before the show, some part of me was half-expecting to read a big sign on the front door of The Commodore that read: “Sorry, Method Man has been cancelled tonight due to narcotic-related issues at the border”. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Otherwise, this review would be fruitless, and merely an empty page filled with mindless jibber jabber. But I digress – the show did happen, the crowd was unbelievable, and most importantly, Method Man was present.
Method Man’s music is marinated in nostalgia of the best kind. Wu-Tang Clan, for many, was a gateway to the wonders of rap, revealing the beauty of the genre in the mid-’90s. Their strange blend of kung-fu and gritty lyrics form an intoxicating hip hop cocktail. It’s addicting. You listen to one album, one track, and you want to hear it all. It swallows you whole, and spits you out with a deeper appreciation for witty lyricism and Shaolin shadowboxing. Wu-Tang is a lifestyle (tiger style), an attitude, and the herbal enhancer between your thumb and pointer finger.
To be shamefully honest, I was in the bathroom when Method Man started his set. His smoky voice rang through the bathroom door in waves as it was opened, closed, then opened again. Not even bothering to dry my hands, I performed a half-assed jog/sprint attempt to the middle of the pack already bouncing in unison. Within minutes Method Man was throwing himself into the crowd, and dousing fans in water. At this moment, I knew right away that this wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill concert, where the performer does their bit and we watch. This was a dynamic between those in attendance and Method Man. No separation of you and me, but instead, one collective of music aficionados. We showed him our love, and he did too. “Vancouver, I love your weed, and I love your style,” said Method Man as he snagged a joint from a gaggle of willing applicants near the front of the stage.
The energy on the floor was infectious. The crowd was educated in the Wu-Tang sword style, reciting lyrics flawlessly to every song performed. Method Man treated us to songs from his debut album Tical, and the Redman-collaborated Blackout. A tribute to Ol’ Dirty Bastard (“Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and “Brooklyn Zoo”) spurred a mosh pit to form, and some limbs to flail as Method Man sang the songs of his deceased partner. Fan favourites from Wu-Tang’s first album were played, and prompted the 42-year-old rapper to praise us for knowing the lyrics to twenty-year-old songs. “C.R.E.A.M.” was followed by “Shame on a Nigga”, which was followed by “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing To F*ck Wit”. Each song was greeted with a louder response than the previous one. People were hearing songs that they’ve been listening to for years, now live on stage. New memories were being made, and nostalgia was replaced with sheer awe. Method Man’s energy, which manifests in his screaming vocals and hard dance moves, infected the crowd and caused us all to jump as one.
Seeing Wu-Tang songs performed live was a dream come true. So I don’t think it would have been possible for me to have a bad time, or give a bad review. Method Man is an idol, a cult icon. But, that being said, my expectations were still blown out of the water. The energy between the crowd and the artist was one of the most genuine I’ve ever seen. The set list was dynamite, showcasing every part of Method Man’s career up until now. And, he was obviously enjoying his time on stage as well, which always makes me strangely proud when I’m in the middle of a high-energy crowd. Method Man crowd-surfed a half-dozen times, sprayed us with water on a handful of occasions, and literally finished the show standing on the crowd’s shoulders. This was a concert that made me fall in love with concerts. All over again.