The Broadway Theatre made the fifth year of the Winterruption music festival truly memorable by booking GZA, one of the nine founding members of the Wu-Tang Clan, for a live performance of his debut solo album Liquid Swords.
As part of the album’s 25th anniversary tour, the musician made a stop at the Coors Event Centre on Jan. 23 to deliver an onslaught of lyrical proficiency to old and young Wu fans alike.
Following the success of their 1993 breakout album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), the American hip hop group released a series of solo projects that have received endless critical acclaim.
Method Man’s Tical, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36th Chambers, Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, Ghostface Killah’s Ironman and GZA’s Liquid Swords all contributed to cementing the clan’s legacy as a powerhouse in the genre.
Goontown, the local hip hop duo opening the show, properly warmed up the audience with some passionately delivered boom bap styled raps. A perfect choice to welcome the East Coast legend to the stage.
GZA then appeared to the iconic but unsettling sound of Liquid Swords’ synthesized rhythms and gave a thrilling performance of “Shadowboxin’.” Within this first song, GZA quickly demonstrated that nearly three decades of experience have only strengthened his cadence and verbal prowess on the microphone
Also known as “The Genius,” GZA lives up to this name through the complexity of his verses overflowing with deviously clever rhymes, similes and metaphors, and vivid imagery. One research project that quantified the lyrics of famous hip-hop artists revealed that GZA had the largest vocabulary of any rapper from the 1990s era and the fourth largest of all time.
Rather than a half-hearted delivery one might expect from a 53-year-old musician, GZA’s powerful voice and commanding stage presence shows that he may have never left his prime. The live performance of Liquid Swords was a flawless recital, and the only words to be missed by GZA were intentional opportunities for the crowd to sing along.
While GZA spent most of the concert performing, he did briefly pause the show to preach the truth to the concert goers saying, “This place is as cold as a motherfucker, but you’re all probably used to it by now.”
But the head boppin’ audience was treated to more than just songs from Liquid Swords, as GZA incorporated other Wu-Tang classics like “Protect Ya Neck,” “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit,” and an immaculate cover of ODB’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” into his performance.
Besides the fan’s cheers and applause, one exceptional concert goer showed Saskatoon’s love for the artist by giving GZA a hand-made beaded necklace of the Wu-Tang logo before his final song.
While autographing records and clothing after the show, GZA told the Sheaf that he loved the necklace and thought it was an “awesome” present.
When asked about what it meant to be so well received in a Prairie city like Saskatoon after all these years, GZA said, “[It’s been] a lot of work, dedication and hard times and when we get love back and respect from the fans, I appreciate it.”
“And I appreciate the people who have been following us for so many years and that we are still able to do shows like this twenty-some years later.”
Noah Callaghan/ Staff Writer
Photo: Coupdoreille.fr/ Flickr