“Natural Born Ghostface Killah”
written by Jason Reed
March 8, 2017
One of my most vivid and positive concert going memories of the last few years (and that’s saying a lot, given how many concerts I attend) was seeing Ghostface Killah along with the Delfonics playing the amazing album “12 Reasons to Die” at SLO Brew in San Luis Obispo California back in 2013. That critically acclaimed studio release (a fruitful collaboration with producer and composer Adrian Young) was one of the best albums released that year. But seeing those songs performed live on stage, with the organicity, soul and grit of a multi-piece backing band (that admittedly, barely fit on the humble stage) absolutely blew me away. Those of my friends that were in attendance still talk about it as a hallmark performance of the ages. As such, it was with these jubilant concert memories still firmly lodged in my cerebral cortex that I jumped at the chance to see Ghostface at the intimate club SoHo in Santa Barbara California. I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed.
In many ways, tonight’s show felt like a “return to form” for the hip-hop legend after his recent and successful collaborative forays with Badbadnotgood and Adrian Young. Ghostface took the stage with an entourage of revelers, with their Hennessy and herbal essences abound, commanding the audience with his trademark gritty rhymes, combined with a healthy dose of introspection. The current tour is entitled “The Glorious Days Tour” and if tonight’s setlist was any indication, both casual and hardcore fans will appreciate the diverse range of classic tracks on display here, including his solo material going all the way back to his eponymous “Ironman” 1996 release with obligatory Wu-Tang crowd favorites thrown in for good measure. In this regard, the current tour appears to capture the essence of Ghost’s discography, as well as providing an overview of his larger legacy within the hip-hop pantheon. If you’ve never seen Ghostface perform, THIS is the 101 course that you should enroll in to be schooled into the mystical Shaolin ways of the 36 Chambers. While a minority of purist fans may relish less popular, deep solo cuts, the current nationwide tour appears to offer an accessible foray into this artist’s back catalog, while providing a healthy dose of the stage swagger and presence that fans come to expect from anyone with Wu-Tang DNA coursing through their veins.
Other highlights of the night included impassioned renditions of Mobb Deep’s “Eye For An Eye,” “Fish,” ODB’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya,” and a medley of Wu-Tang jams. Ghostface also gave an homage to golden era hip-hop, imploring the audience to lift their lighters and cell phones while his DJ played a mix of Big Daddy Kane, Biz Market, Erik B and Rakim and others on the wheels of steel. Ghostface also solicited two loyal fans from the audience to jump on stage and sing some Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s lines. The stakes were high, with the potential for shame and embarrassment hanging over their heads like the Sword of Damocles. Luckily, both of the chosen makeshift MCs expressed the requisite lyricism that was needed to win over the crowd and, perhaps more importantly, Ghostface’s respect and acknowledgment for their holding it down and channeling the spirit of ODB.
Today was also “International Women’s Day” and it was nice to see Ghostface and his crew oblige in inviting selected female audience members on stage to let them have their much deserved place in the spotlight. To that end, I wish that Ghostface had performed “Josephine” (one of the most sincerely heartbreaking tomes about womanhood in his repertoire off of his 2006 “More Fish” album), but alas, such a wish was not meant to be.
If you’ve never seen Ghostface Killah perform, I strongly encourage that you see him on his current multi-city national tour. You will be rewarded with musical gems and inspired lyricism that you won’t soon forget.
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