All words: Bri Younger // All photos: Jason Dixson
The show was all-ages – there’s a strong possibility there were people in attendance who weren’t even born when “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” first came out – but the fervent sing-a-long that was the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony show Friday night was a testament to the timelessness of their music. With 20 years worth of music under their belts, the Grammy-winning group had nine albums and an array of singles dating up through 2010 from which to choose. They opted to keep the show classic, performing mostly older cuts and none that came after 2000.
It was nothing short of an honor to see all five members – Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Wish Bone, Bizzy Bone and Flesh-n-Bone – share the stage. Having been mired by Flesh’s problems with the law and internal conflicts that sparked word that members had quit, the reunion tour was revered. The packed house, though varied in age, all shared a mutual respect and adoration for Bone Thugs, and as a result the crowd responded as if they knew they were in the presence of legends. When they told us to throw your hands up, we got our hands up.
Opening with “Mo Murda” from 1995’s E. 1999 Eternal and running through a few cuts from that album before moving to 1997’s Art Of War, the Bone Thugs were vibrant with their melodious rapid-fire flows. But it was Bizzy Bone – who seemed to have everyone’s favorite verse on every song – and his higher-pitched voice that shined on many of the performances. Careful not to overtake one another, every song was performed in its entirety.
After ripping through early hits like “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and “1st of tha Month,” the group paid tribute to a few fallen legends: Eazy E (who first signed them in 1993), Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac. Demanding that we bring each of the artists back for their respective verses, “Foe tha Love of $,” “Notorious Thugs” and “Thug Luv” were compelling in a manner such that, just for a second, you wanted to believe Eazy, Biggie and Pac were going to appear on stage. Each of the deceased was given their moment, their verses performed (by crowd and Bone Thugs, alike) wholly.
Of course, a Bone Thugs show wouldn’t be proper without giving the weed-smokers their moment as well. Using a snippet of Luniz’s “I Got 5 On It” to prepare blunts, the group lit up before saying “let’s get high for real” and proceeded into renditions of “Budsmokers Only,” “Mary Jane” and “Weed Song.” It was a ten minutes any enthusiast would’ve appreciated.
Finally, after just over an hour of performing, it was time for the group’s most successful single. Interestingly, “Crossroads” was actually the most apathetic performance of the night. But then again, the song is so popular they could’ve just put on the instrumental and let the audience do all of the work. Still, the song in and of itself is potent. And on the heels of the tributes combined with the two year anniversary of Nate Dogg’s death (March 15, 2011) and mentions of people like Left Eye, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson and a shout out for Lil Wayne (who’d been admitted to the hospital earlier), the performance went over well.
Though “Crossroads” would’ve been a perfectly appropriate finale, no one was ready for the show to end. They fit in two more songs: “Ecstasy” from 2000’s BTNHResurrection and “No Surrender” from 1994’s Creepin on ah Come Up. This time, when the performance was actually over, the exiting song was the 2 Chainz banger “RIP,” and I must say, it was fitting. But since they still weren’t ready to go, they turned the stage into the “Bone Thugs Club,” inviting ladies to join in what became a 20 minute after-party and a moment of mutual appreciation between artist and fans.
1. Mo Murda
2. East 1999
3. Crept And We Came
4. Let The Law End
5. Body Rott
6. Thuggish Ruggish Bone
7. 1st Of Tha Month
8. Days Of Our Livez
9. Foe Tha Love Of $
10. Notorious Thugs
11. Thug Luv
12. Budsmokers Only
13. Mary Jane
14. Weed Song
17. No Surrender