Wu-Tang Clan / Peter Jackson Kool Haus, Toronto ON, November 28

Wu-Tang Clan / Peter Jackson Kool Haus, Toronto ON, November 28
Photo: Kevin Jones
As the 3,000 Wu-hungry fans awaited the emergence of the Clan, a huge array of support acts warmed up the night, most of which were local. DJ Merciless opened the proceedings with some old-school, no nonsense hip-hop. Then Scarborough's own Symmetry took the stage, backed up by breakdancing troupe the Supernaturals. Despite the absence of his usual crew, Shing Shing Regime, Symmetry was comfortable and completely on form.

After a couple more displays of local talent, it was time for main support act Peter Jackson. Jackson brought buckets of energy to the stage with the help of an ever-expanding crew of "hell yeah-ers" and T-shirt throwers, as well as a full band, which added a lot of weight to the performance, allowing him to switch from reggae — on "Hustle From Born (Hustler)" — to ominous club anthem "Hundred Miles" without any awkward stops. Just as Jackson seemed to be getting started, he told the audience that Wu-Tang wanted to start soon and he'd have to wrap it up, which he did with the uproarious track "I Don't Give A Fuck."

So, with Peter Jackson seemingly coerced off stage by an imminent Wu-Tang Clan arrival, it would have been fair to assume they'd burst out at any second. Unfortunately, it was another hour before the Clan showed up. In that time the DJ attempted to placate the audience with classics from the likes of Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., and Nas, but while someone playing vintage hip-hop is infinitely better than staring at an empty stage, after a while it's like a waiter continuously bringing you bread rolls in lieu of the main course.

Finally, after over three and a half hours of support acts and waiting, the first beats of "Bring Da Ruckus" rang out. Starting with Ghostface, each Clan member trickled out on stage for their verse, with the exception of Method Man, RZA, and Masta Killa. Meth eventually burst out about four tracks into the set, but RZA and Masta Killa never emerged: while many dates on this 20th anniversary tour were performed with a full Clan, this was not one of them.

In spite of absentees, the attending members went on a roll of tracks, performing "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'," "Shame on a Nigga," "Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber," and "C.R.E.A.M.," in what was shaping up to be the perfect Wu-Tang gig (which, for most people, is probably 36 Chambers in its entirety with a few choice hits thrown in for good measure). Instead, the group switched course and focused on each member's solo work — all of which were enjoyable, but none more so than GZA's "4th Chamber" from the astounding Liquid Swords.

As the show seemed to be winding down, they unleashed "Protect Ya Neck," their first and arguably best track. Naturally, the crowd went wild. But Wu-Tang in no way attacked this track with the same fervour they did 20 years ago.

This was true for a lot of their songs, because when you reach the status that the Wu-Tang Clan have, you can pretty much perform however you like and people will still love it. Throughout the show they were by no means tight: some of them slurred their words frequently, and at times they talked over each other so much that it was like watching Arrested Development with the full-cast commentary on, but somehow they still put on a great show. Clocking in at an average age of 43 and still going strong after 20 years, it seems like Wu-Tang Clan still ain't nuthin ta fuck wit.