GZA Was a One-Man Wu-Tang Cover Band at Star Theater

All that needed to be done was done, and if it wasn’t particularly new, nobody seemed to care.

GZA at Star Theater on Aug. 9. IMAGE: Sam Gehrke.

A Wu-Tang solo show in 2017 is a strange affair.

The group has been notoriously at odds with each other, releasing fragmented albums with no real focus. The remaining members persevere, banking off of nostalgia and their cult-like fan base. GZA, the cerebral nucleus of Wu-Tang, hit the Star Theater on Aug. 9, with that nostalgia front and center, yielding scattered results.

After a lengthy buildup in which the audience bombarded the openers with "We want GZA" chants, the rap legend finally shuffled onstage. The unmistakable intro to "4th Chamber" hummed through the air, and he launched into an aggressive delivery of his magnum opus "Liquid Swords." After a few more stellar songs from Liquid Swords, GZA shifted into material from the Clan's debut Wu Tang: Enter The 36 Chambers.

The latter half of the show was a mixed bag, with GZA delivering verses from every Wu member. It felt strange hearing him perform songs designed for a nine-piece group—like a one-man Wu-Tang cover band. Despite this, the audience ate up every word, proudly flashing "W" symbols toward the stage. All that needed to be done was done, and if it wasn't particularly new, nobody seemed to care.

All photos by Sam Gehrke.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.