Gza – The Arches, Glasgow

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

“A Game of Chess is much like a sword fight, you must think first before you move” begins the Wu Tang classic ‘The Mystery of Chess Boxing’; however, this ideology seems somewhat at odds with the water tight flow of GZA’s ‘Liquid Swords’ showcase.

The legendary MC arrives on stage around half an hour late to a restless and irritable Arches crowd. The GZA makes no apologies before steam rolling effortlessly, and somewhat relentlessly, through the motions of the classic 1995 album, giving brief snippets and nostalgic snapshots into an album that is sold short here by the lack of fellow Wu Tang members.

The absence of Ghostface Killah’s hooks on ‘4th Chamber’ making the delivery of the track seems somewhat redundant. Whether these seamless transitions between tracks work as a solid collection of his greatest rhymes or whether the Genius is in auto pilot – rarely shifting from a neutral gear, whilst maintaining his infamous laid back persona and underpinning broodiness -remains to be seen.

There are moments when GZA injects some spontaneous bursts of energy into his set, engaging the crowd with the question/answer section of ‘Living in the World today’. Often noted as one of Wu Tang Clan’s finest MCs, his towering presence is merely let down by the lack of any real momentum between tracks. Just as the deep pulsing groove of ‘Triumph‘ kicks in, the GZA then fast forwards on to a lesser known track from his wildcard ‘Beneath The Surface’ album.

Regardless of the trimmed down song structures and constant transit throughout the set, the GZA is always on point. This is clearly a platform where he thrives, however, with the biggest cheer of the night reserved for a cover of the late ODB’s ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’, one can’t help but wonder how much better he would have fared with the backing of the rest of the Clan.

Jack Taylor

Photo by Matthew McAndrew – http://matthewmcandrew.com

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