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LIVE REPORT: Badbadnotgood & Ghostface Killah
Yousif Nur , June 2nd, 2015 13:08

Yousif Nur reports from Electric Ballroom

Some things interweave so seamlessly that they're often overlooked. Take tonight for instance: A fitting tone for the evening's live performances is set with a DJ set compromising of hip-hop with a jazz slant – Black Moon, Gang Starr, MF Doom and KRS-One. And while DJs for the most part in the rap world are a central figure, this evening they're secondary to the jazz-instrumental Badbadnotgood and Wu Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah.   As the band from Toronto take to the intimately lit blue stage, it's quite clear from the first minute that these are supremely talented musicians both as a collective and as individuals. Sour Soul, the new collaborative album with Ghostface is a decent entry point to what they as a band are all about – crossing over genres to full effect with their drummer (who in many ways is the backbone of this band) flitting between time signatures and tempo as deftly as flicking light switches. All the best experimental acts are so tight that they know each other innately in their personal styles and even influences.   Badbadnotgood play several of their own material for about 15 minutes, before they introduce the man who goes by the name of Ghostface Killah. And Iron Man. And Tony Starks. And Dennis Coles. But rather than give a short introduction to welcome him onstage, they tell a rather protracted tale of how this project came together to begin with. They met one another through a mutual friend who said that they would work well together and began sessioning for a number of years, before eventually releasing Sour Soul with the Wu-Tang rapper, effectively making them his backing band.   After the formality of waffling on about it being an honour to work with such as luminary, Ghostface strides slowly on to the stage to Wu-Tang hand signals from the crowd, before they launch into 'I Can't Go To Sleep'. A perhaps surprising element of the evening is the amount of songs lifted from his 2000 classic, 'Supreme Clientele'. Given that it's admittedly his finest solo work to date, around half of the album at the very least is played this evening. Slightly confusing when you consider Sour Soul is supposedly the main event. The two respective acts work well together. Their songs are short and snappy, not because of their song length, but because they'll only get through a verse and a chorus of every track at such as breakneck speed. We're all unsure as to why, but they make a point of only having had an hours sleep the previous night. Guys, you're a rock & roll band. Act like it. Despite this, no one seems to boo or express dissatisfaction at cutting songs as though they were austerity measures.   And while Badbad and Ghostface Killah have a well-respected catalogue of their own material, there's a need to crowd-please. This came via covers of single verses and a chorus of the Jackson 5 'I Want You Back' and the Isley Brothers 'Footsteps In The Dark', Ghostface murmurs a very disagreeable "Thanks to Ice Cube for murdering this song". An air of inevitability loomed large for Wu-Tang Clan covers, which would stand to reason. Protect Ya Neck, prompted volunteers who knew the words to cover in for GZA and RZA, who were otherwise unavailable. 

Your esteemed reviewer may or may not have nearly ended up on stage, but for much headshaking at his end, in spite of being goaded to by a couple of friends. Ghostface Killah noticed this and assured him by saying 'don't be scared'. Regardless, it was still politely declined. Eventually two guys with no sense of stage fright jumped on flowing the song with proficiency. Ol Dirty Bastard's 'Shimmy Shimmy Ya', 'Brooklyn Zoo', 'Wu Tang Clan Ain't Nuttin to Fuck Wit' and 'C.R.E.A.M.' An encore shortly followed with Mighty Healthy and GZA's 4th Chamber from the 1995 classic (and the best solo Wu-Tang album to date) Liquid Swords.   Before we know it, the gig ends pretty abruptly, as the headliners clock in at about 45 minutes onstage. It's not hugely disappointing because of the lack of Sour Soul material, but rather because we know they're capable of second verses. Their records after all, seem pretty evident of that.

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