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Published: 2008/12/03
by Mark Burnell

Wu Tang Clan : Live In Montreux 2007

Eagle Eye Media

Although it still retains something of a jazz element from its early days, it must be said that the Montreux Jazz Festival has long since become more of a mainstream music festival, albeit one that scrupulously attempts to cover every musical genre under the sun. Not unlike the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, it highlights its true jazz roots in smaller venues, while bringing in the crowds by using big rock and pop names, an exercise which can lead to incongruities like this one, where a headlining act has not one actual instrument onstage.

Live rap tends to fall into two categories: the Huge Show or the MC Fest. The former (think P Diddy or Kanye West) involves a live band, who may or may not be playing most of the music the audience hears, complicated lights and pyrotechnics, and choreographed dance moves, while the latter relies upon the skill of the rappers themselves, keeping the stage fripperies to a bare minimum. Wu-Tang Clan go for the MC Fest approach, sporting no less than ten MCs onstage with the music being supplied by their resident DJ, the extremely talented RZA. Honestly, it’s a mess. RZA appears to be doing nothing more than triggering backing tapes, and the subtleties of his inventive soundscapes are lost entirely, as only the endless repetitive beats are audible. Having ten MCs onstage, apart from giving the crowd something to look at as they bob and weave around each other, does nothing but clutter the music to the point where it’s almost impossible to decipher any lyrics.

The Swiss crowd eats it up anyway, and if you’re a fan, you’ll probably enjoy this DVD, as Wu-Tang squeeze in over 30 songs in half an hour, including all the hits. There’s certainly an abundance of energy in places, especially when Ghostface Killah takes the stage, but the casually curious would be better served by checking out the actual albums where RZA’s efforts can be properly heard.

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