by / March 23rd, 2011 /

Raekwon – The Button Factory, Dublin

Raekwon couldn’t have picked a better time to bring the Wu-Tang Ruckus. It’s the night before Paddy’s Day, everyone’s on a booze blitz and scowly empty-handed touts are outside the Button Factory trying to score tickets. The place is hopping with anticipation – it’s billed as a run-through of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, his revered 1995 debut solo album which took the blueprint of the Clan’s snarling 1993 debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and splattered it with Scarface levels of gangsta excess.

The Chef is keeping us waiting but he’s in the wings, sending messages over the PA to the “true hip-hop fans”. So from behind the curtain he promises: “Yo yo I got my Patrick’s Day green drawers on Dublin – get me a green Guinness.” A few weary Wu disciples are restless – the Clan have a near 100% record of turning up late. We’re imagining a Wizard of Oz scenario behind the curtain – what if that’s just a recording? Is he in a stoned haze back at his hotel?

No such arsing around from support act Melodica Deathship, the Dublin-based hip-hop duo whose live show sounds like it was forged in a foundry – seismic industrial beats and cavernous dubby basslines from Deep Burial, and MC Exile Eye’s seafaring rhymes about pirates, shipwrecks and ghostly vessels on the high seas. They sail through most of their five-star album Doom Your Cities, Doom Your Towns, with the highlights being ‘Black Ship Coming’, the cannon fire on ‘Bang Out’ and ‘1803’ – their misty take on Bobby Sands’s prison ship ballad ‘Back Home in Derry’. The nautical concept draws a parallel with Wu-Tang’s fixation on kung fu imagery and samples, and there’s a world of films, literature and ancient myths and legends for them to plunder for future voyages – we can’t wait to see where the Deathship docks next.

Anyway, back to Raekwon. DJ Symphony has been spinning old school hip-hop and the odd numbskull singalong like House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ while The Chef gets ready. There’s also a lighter/mobile phone aloft moment when he drops the G-Funk classic ‘Regulate’ for “fallen brother” Nate Dogg the day before. Flanked by two burly MCs, Raekwon bounds on at 11pm (early in Wu-Land) in a hail of Wu-Tang snippets, scattershot scratching and his 2009 single ‘House of Flying Daggers’. Straight up we know he’s not sticking to the script – we’ll have “some old shit, some new shit, some real Shaolin hip-hop and some Wu-Tang bangers”. The Chef must have cooked and ate all his own pies – those green drawers of his must be XXXXL – but it doesn’t stop him pogoing, grabbing the yellow Wu-Tang logo on his t-shirt like a patriotic World Cup goalscorer.

The set’s full of heavy-hitters from his near-20 year career, which works out better than a Cuban Linx playback after all. It’s mostly split between Cuban Linx, the 2009 sequel Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 and 36 Chambers, and he tears through the tracks, spitting verses, barely missing a rhyme. It’s a hip-hop hit rather than a miss, with Cuban Linx classics like ‘Incarcerated Scarfaces’, ‘Criminology’ and ‘Glaciers of Ice’ knocking heads with the sequel’s hardcore tracks ‘Surgical Gloves’ and ‘House of Flying Daggers’ – so good he plays it twice. There are plenty of thumbs-together Wu signs for Clan favourites ‘C.R.E.A.M.’, ‘Can It Be All So Simple’ and ‘Protect Ya Neck’ as he asks the crowd to stamp all over that “pussy commercial shit”. He even sneaks in Ghostface’s first verse of GZA’s ‘4th Chamber’ from Liquid Swords and the first minute of the towering ‘Triumph’ – but that’s interrupted by the DJ trying to flog merchandise (well it had to happen sooner or later). He’s “drunk on the green Guinness” too so he’s full of the banter, praising the Irish for heroic drinking and dodging a few boos when he suggests maybe the Russians could take us on. OK maybe another time, but the Russians wouldn’t have a hope here. Raekwon hails glorious Saint Patrick for “taking all the snakes outta the muthafuckin’ hood”, and this causes such a roar that you know half the crowd are already planning a rollover party into Paddy’s Day, bringing the Ruckus all sides.

Photos by Alan Moore.

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  • liam

    really wanted to hit this- glad it was a success, good review!

  • Conor McCaffrey

    Yeah the beer gods were on his side too, the crowd was bananas. He put the work in compared to a load of hip-hop gigs. the gig set off a fairly messy Paddy’s Day chain of events!

  • el milagro

    I don’t know – I must have been at a different gig: doors at 7:30 – Raekwon on stage at 11:15; Melodica Deathship were excruciatingly poor; the DJ played the lamest cheesiest hip-hop & even gave a shout out to the IRA during the House of Pain; Raewkon’s set was full of half-songs, patronising between song banter and lame-assed Merch plugs. He’s certainly no Ghostface.

  • Conor McCaffrey

    El Migaro: I made reference to Raekwon being late (even suggesting he had a recording of his voice backstage and was back at his hotel smoking spliffs) I also called bullshit on the DJ on his “numbskull” tunes like Jump Around. I also mentioned that Raekwon veered from the advertised show, and made a point of the DJ trying to flog merchandise, par for the course at every hip-hop gig. And I also said he was cutting some tunes after a minute or so (4th chamber and triumph mentioned in the copy, but that didn’t really annoy me as much as you).

    As for the daft banter — Ol’ Raekwon is hardly GZA, we were all expecting that hands in the air nonsense and the stuff about smoking weed and “sexy women”. The hands in the air caper happens at most hip-hop gigs anyway — even so-called ‘alternative’ acts like Antipop Consortium. And i actually thought the getting the snakes out of the hood joke was just class hip-hop pantomime.

    Not sure about the Ghostface pedestal either. He spent the whole of his gig in the village a few years ago hawking t-shirts from the stage, and I travelled over to see the Wu in brixton academy last August and Ghostface was so steamboats on champagne he could barely stand up never mind hit his lines.

    The review certainly isn’t some shameless arse-licky piece at all. Shitty buzz you didn’t enjoy the gig, hundreds did, the crowd was going mental.

    And as for Melodica Deathship, I’m disagreeing with you 100%…

    Right, I’m away to put my green drawers on!

  • linda

    You managed to put a really positive spin on this. For me, it was a lesson learned: Never EVER go to a gig on Paddy’s night. The crowd were the worst crowd i’ve ever had the misfortune to be a part of. I enjoyed Melodica Deathship (always) but the crowds reaction to them was so offensive i had the grump for the rest of the night. And that dj… oh the dj… it was embarrassing. the IRA shout out made me physically cringe.

    I was really surprised that the crowds antics were tolerated by the security staff in The Button factory as, at previous, less rowdy gigs i ahve foudn them rather over zealous.

  • el milagro

    Conor: I wasn’t trying to diss your review and accept 2 people can have a very different experience of the same gig. I just felt that your review was quite positive in tone whereas my experience of the night was pretty negative in all respects. And as Linda points out the crowd was full of aggressive drunken assholes – a couple of guys in particular felt the need to strip to the waist and pick fights with anyone they bumped into – hey but lets just put that down to acceptable national holiday exuberance!

  • Alan


    On the positive side when he was rapping he was great, but that was the problem. Considering his best album was effectively a collaberation and he didn’t bother to bring along an additional MC so we got a set of half songs with as much between song talking as actual tunes. Then when you consider how late he was, the offensive warm-up MC, lager lout crowd this was not a good gig. I’ve seen Q-Tip, Edan, De La Soul, Common, Blackalicious, Public Enemy, People Under the Stairs and Jay Z all perform in Dublin and this didn’t even come close to any of those gigs. This gig just confirmed the bad live rep that the Wu Tang have in my opinion.

  • Deano

    Best gig I’ve ever been to…….Maybe because I’m a huge WU fan and its the first Wu gig i was ever at.Fuckin eargasm!And obviously he was doing parts of songs he hasnt got many songs that are 100% raekwon and im delighted he covered small bits of a lot of songs because i didnt wanna leave the gig sayin i wish he done this,i wish he done that.I didnt really care he was so late either coz i was half expectin it.also he really looked liked he enjoyed himself too which made it all the more better.WU TANG FOREVER…..

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