I saw Ghostface Killah at the Nokia Theater on Saturday night. (So did at least two guys from the Voice, apparently.) I say two because I also ran into Robert Christgau there. He was wandering around looking old and befuddled, going down the wrong hallway before heading toward the performance area. I walked over and said hi, gave him my card. He said he recognized my name, I said I'd written some stuff for the paper. He asked me how many people I thought the Nokia held, and we both guessed about 1500. Then he headed inside, and I stayed where I was for a little while longer. This was during the openers' sets - maybe M1, maybe Papoose (who I'd never heard of before the night and don't much care if I never hear again - he sounded just like Trife to me, but there's already one Trife and he's good enough at what he does that he doesn't need replacing). I stayed outside for DJ Premier's set, too, which turned out to be kind of a bummer since that meant missing Jeru the Damaja, who I would have liked to see redeem himself. I saw him open for Tricky 10 years ago at Irving Plaza, and he was lame that night.
The whole show was kinda disappointing, in fact. Ghostface had about 19 hypemen onstage (the Theodore Unit, minus Cappadonna, plus a shitload of hangers-on) and they seemed to me to be stepping on his lines in a very annoying way. But the crowd seemed to be going berserk for everything, so maybe I'm just no longer the target audience for live hip-hop. (Was I ever?) But like the headline above says, I bought a T-shirt. And I'm glad I was there; there were moments, particularly during Slick Rick's set and when Ghostface launched into some of the Supreme Clientele cuts, that were genuinely thrilling. I think if I'd paid for a ticket I might have been more disappointed than I was, though.