Show Review: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

The past week was a good one for Cleveland. Tuesday night was party time downtown: halter tops, booze, wall-to-wall traffic, cops, and loud music. With the clock’s final seconds ticking away and the Cavaliers about to seize a 2-0 lead in their second-round playoff series, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony celebrated its five-years-in-the-making return with a CD release party at the House of Blues. As soon as I opened the door a thick cloud of pot smoke came billowing out of the main room (which was oh-so-close to selling out). Although the former quintet is down to just three Bones -- Krayzie, Layzie, and Wish – some things never change for the hometown heroes. Then again, if you didn’t know Bone Thugs were now a trio, you’d swear the group had turned into a 25-man strong collective. That’s how many of their friends were hanging out on stage just enjoying the show, especially when the group launched into a medley of urban chestnuts, including 1997’s “Dayz of our Livez,” which in hindsight sounds so much more mellow and pretty than it did back when the group’s image was far more thuggish. Hell, the crowd was even singing along as if Rod Stewart was up there crooning “Forever Young.” But don’t get the wrong idea: Bone Thugs are still some raw dudes, something they clearly demonstrated with several shout outs for the crowd to raise their middle ringers in the air (which they did with zeal). And then there were the tributes to fallen idols Biggie and their former mentor Eazy-E: Both started with the line, “Let’s see if we can bring this ______ back to life,” then the group launched into a jam. For Biggie, they inserted “fat bastard.” For Eazy, “motherfucker” was employed. The songs that received the greatest reception were from Bone Thugs’ newest disc, Strength & Loyalty, which came out earlier that day on Interscope (for a full look in the making of the record, check out writer Dan LeRoy’s feature on the group in this week’s Scene). This was a total surprise and may be a sign of things to come. With a little luck, all of America will once again be waving their middle fingers to the sounds of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. -- Justin F. Farrar

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