Ghostface Killah @ HQ, Adelaide (23/06/09)
Mon 6th Jul, 2009 Event Reviews 1028 viewsin
It could be said that Adelaide is spoilt when it comes to live hip hop. It might be our strong local scene, or our diligent promoters, quality greenery, or maybe we’re just lucky…whatever the case – and I certainly don’t want to jinx us – but, after already playing host to a swag of international hip hop luminaries this year including Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Lupe Fiasco, EPMD, Oh No, De La Soul, Blu and Exile and Necro, things could only get better. Yet when the news dropped that Wu Tang clansman, accomplished solo artist and all-around hip hop deity Ghostface Killah scheduled Adelaide in his Australian tour, it was almost too good to be true. From the get go, Ghost was set to be bigger than Ben-Hur!
Embarking on a whirlwind week-long marathon-of-a-tour, Mr Tony Starks pulled a substantial crowd for a chilly Tuesday winter’s night. Mindful that it would all be over before the stroke of midnight, the eager crowd was perhaps more interested in getting their drink on and wagging their chins than allotting their undivided attention to the support acts. Nonetheless, despite keeping their distance, the audience was treated to two of our best local talents running rings around the live circuit at the moment. Delivering no less, Dialect and Delta both provided top-notch support while Sanchez filled in the gaps with an on-point soundtrack to the mid-week merriment. Ghost then materialised without warning. Cigarettes were stubbed out mid-smoke and conversations quickly ceased. Bodies swarmed the front of stage while others just stood and stared in disbelief.
Emerging uncharacteristically without a glimmer of bling in sight, Ghost made up for it by gracing the stage in a plush purple velour tracksuit. Dynamic yet poised, unfettered yet slightly high-pitched, he instantaneously set the place ablaze. An intimate affair, Pretty Toney had the crowd mesmerised – you simply couldn’t take your eyes off of him. Spitting emotionally charged raps whilst maintaining a smooth constant flow to a one part New York boom bap, one part 70s soul-dipped soundscape, the crowd bore witness to a seasoned performer doing what he does best. Backed by his hand-picked Staten Island posse, the Theodore Unit ensured there was plenty of on-stage activity.
The set list spanned Ghost’s entire back catalogue, including some classic Wu joints and possibly a little too many covers. An ODB ode and Dilla tribute came in the form of Shimmy Shimmy Ya and Murder Goons respectively. Now looking back, Be Easy and We Celebrate dropped somewhat prematurely. In fact, it was almost as if Ghost came out all guns blazing but then resorted to sure-fire party-starters such as The Pharcyde’s Passing Me By and Gnarls Barkley hit Crazy to really get the place jumping. And that he did, inviting girls up on stage, which only intensified the irony of Greedy Bitches as Theodore Unitarian Shawn Wiggs made the most of his time to shine. Something was not quite right with the sound yet luckily Ghost’s stream-of-consciousness live in the flesh was impressive enough to cancel the niggly inaudibility out.
After a lengthy, high-energy set almost clocking in at two hours, Mobb Deep banger Hell on Earth polished the mind-blowing performance off. The crowd was then hustled out with HQ’s customary (in)hospitable touch and I had to reassure myself, ‘yes, that was Ghostface.’ But there was no doubt in my mind: I had just experienced one of the most memorable nights in Adelaide’s live hip hop history.
Who’s next? Rakim? Now I really have jinxed us!