Doom and Ghostface at the Roundhouse
5th November 2011
The man formerly known as MF Doom returns to the Roundhouse for a sold-out show, barely a year after his debut European performance in the same venue. Carting round the UK for a few weeks, the masked and multi-monikered rapper’s schedule happens to coincide with that of his on-off collaborator, the man formerly known as Ghostface Killah. And lo! A co-headline date is squeezed in, to the delight of the uniform legions of polite-looking dudes in New Era caps and flannel shirts, all of whom seem happy to give up their fireworks in the hope of hearing material from the long-awaited DoomStarks collaboration.
Unlucky. The intended running times fall victim to hip hop standards of punctuality as they take their sweet time on the solo sets, leaving us with just a few closing minutes of shared stage antics, back-slapping and big-ups.
But we make do. Both provide blistering run-throughs of their best bits, Doom stuffing his half with snippets from across his catalogue, including Dangerdoom and King Geedorah material plus tasty treats from Mm.. Food. He flomps across the stage with relaxed authority, face hidden behind the gold mask and sizeable pot belly poking out from an Army surplus camouflage net. Big Benn Klingon provides the usual hype man business with gusto to match his gut, and backpacks bump heartily with recognition of each rhyme.
Ghostface gives us an equally satisfying selection, throwing in material from Fishscale and Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx as well as some classic Wu Tang. “Who copped the first Wu album?” he barks, provoking whoops that would indicate some of this crowd were seriously gangsta as six-year-olds. Annoyingly, the corporate gloss of the Roundhouse doesn’t extend to the sound quality, despite there being little more than a backing track and a few gruff voices to amplify. Familiar beats ricochet around the ovoid tramshed like bullets in a tin submarine, while the muffled bass rumbles underfoot as if emanating from a passing rudeboy’s ride. The rappers’ white-hot aura keeps us perky, but when it takes Ghostface shouting “Dollar dollar bill y’all!” to realise you’re listening to ‘C.R.E.A.M.’, you can’t help but feel a little cheated.