Live Review: The RZA as Bobby Digital @ 9:30 Club, July 8

One of the many things I love about the 9:30 Club is the fact that they post actual show times and that artists tend to stick to them to the minute. The only time in the years I’ve been going and dozens upon dozens of shows I’ve seen where this has been a problem was a few years back when I saw the Wu-Tang Clan on their ODB Tribute Tour. So you’d think I’d have known better last night when I caught the RZA that there was no way he was going on at the posted time of 9:30 pm. Silly me.

I did take that fact into consideration and didn’t show up until about 9:45. When I walked in the door, a pretty good DJ was spinning wax. Anybody who throws old school Slick Rick on the turn table is alright by me, so it was a decent distraction. Not realizing that the RZA hadn’t even shown up yet (apparently, he showed up just before he went on stage; more on that in a minute), I was a bit surprised when Stone Mecca went on about 10 pm. Their solo set was pretty pedestrian. They sounded at times like a watered down early Prince and at other times like a much weaker Parliament. The singers’ voices largely were shot, which probably is understandable as last night was the final night of the current tour. After that, the crowd was “treated” to two rappers who sounded like they had been found behind the club when it was determined RZA still was MIA.

After another short set by the aforementioned DJ, the RZA finally showed up, just after 11 pm and took the stage to a less than half full room. Interestingly, he was backed for his performance by the DJ and Stone Mecca, both of whom stepped up their game considerably. Stone Mecca may not be much to see on their own, but they did a more than admirable job behind the RZA.

While the show focused predominantly on new material from Digi Snacks (such as the phenomenal “Booby Trap”), the crowd was rewarded towards the end with a classic Wu track or two (a short version of “Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit”). For me, though, the highlight was during “Drama”, when he brought out Thea van Seijen, a Dutch singer with one of the most unique voices I’ve heard in a while. Assuming she gets the usual Wu love and has her own CD in a matter of minutes, I’ll certainly be picking up that one.

By the time the show came to a close just after midnight, the stage looked a lot like a Funkadelic affair, with a dozen or more musicians, rappers, singers and assorted hangers on milling about, creating a familial feel. At this point in the evening, though, I’d guess the club was maybe a third full. Maybe if the RZA had gone a tad earlier…

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