Over the sound of an air raid siren a 53 year old man speaks the immortal words, ‘Brighton, England consider yourself warned”. A sample from Fred Wesley and The J.Bs’ ‘Blow Your Head’ kicks in, Flavour Flav and Chuck D start spitting ‘Public Enemy No.1’ and everyone in the Brighton Dome loses their mind. As far as the eye can see a multi-generational crowd start to pogo like a few thousand Masai warriors in hoodies and shell toe Adidas as one of the most influential groups of this or any era embark on a two-hour trip down memory lane.
Public Enemy are back in Blighty and they’re ‘Louder Than A Bomb’. Still.
A few things may have changed since Public Enemy announced themselves to the world 25 years ago with their groundbreaking debut album Yo! Bum Rush The Show. DJ Lord stands in place of Terminator X who swapped the ones and twos for raising African ostriches, it’s Old Skool who encourages us not to believe the hype in place of Harry Alan and S1Ws have changed personnel if not their costumes. But with Chuck D centre stage and Flavour Flav’s oversized clock telling us what time it is the energy and essence of PE still shines through and it’s as infectious as it ever was.
Although it’s not an obvious fit Public Enemy at the Brighton Dome made perfect sense. The old music hall has played hosts to Philharmonic orchestras and world music luminaries for years and now in their silver jubilee PE are rightly revered as hip hop dignitaries worthy of such a grand stage. But despite Chuck and Flav being older than all of One Direction put together don’t confuse experience with decline. They can still out rap and out dance any wheezing smoked out emcee half their age. With Flavour only stopping his pneumatic knee lifts for a stint on drums and Chuck swinging his mic like a kid with a light sabre the full metal racket that is Public Enemy are still a force of nature live. They know what the crowd want and boy did they deliver. All your favourites got played and they sound as relevant now as they did at the times those tracks were released. ‘Night of the Living Baseheads’ still rings true, there’s still a suspicion that fashion labels exploit the underprivileged who make and buy their products so perhaps we should ‘Shut ‘Em Down’ and you’d have to go pretty far to find someone who doesn’t think that in some way we shouldn’t ‘Fight The Power’.
But despite Chuck and Flav being older than all of One Direction put together don’t confuse experience with decline. They can still out rap and out dance any wheezing smoked out emcee half their age.
These boys truly are timeless. After the show you could see parents who brought their kids smug as you like handing out ‘I told you so’ grins to a wide eyed generation seeing the majesty of PE for the first time. And like the Rolling Stones you can imagine they’ll be back for a 50th anniversary tour in 2037. Chuck D being wiser than ever, Flavour Flav still the controversial hype man as both are eagerly watched by a new generation of grandparents, parents and kids who won’t believe the hype. Consider yourself….WARNED
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