Support for this one comes from local Brighton band Figital who consist of a DJ playing beats and scratching over them and another guy playing violin over those beats and rapping on a couple of numbers. They also have a female dancer on stage and it’s entertaining if a little overlong for a support slot as all the songs sound fairly similar.

It’s been 20 years since De la Soul’s ground breaking “Three feet high and rising” album. Produced by Prince Paul of Stetsasonic, this inventive record featured laid back and imaginative rhymes from the Long Island MC’s and was the first hip hop album I ever heard that had skits on, something that’s since become a standard for a hip hop album.

They’re celebrating their 20 years with a series of gigs, but they actually tour several months of the year anyway so this gig feels like business as usual in a packed Concorde 2. As usual for a hip hop gig, it takes ages for the equipment to be set up. Why does it always take so long to hook up two turntables, a mixer, a laptop and a mic for the DJ and get it all working? I’m sure a U2 gig goes ahead with few techinical hitches and their stage sets look like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.

Once things finally get going, De la Soul’s DJ Maseo (aka Plug Three) acts as hypeman and third MC, getting the crowd going with the usual call and response warm up routine before the other two MCs Posdnuos (aka Plug One) and Trugoy the Dove (aka Plug Two) take to the stage.

They proceed to go through the classics with stand out tracks being “A Rollerskating jam named Saturdays”, “Ring, ring, ring”, “Stakes is high”, “Me, Myself and I”, “Buddy” and “The Magic Number”. The last couple of times that I’ve seen them they only play a bit of “Rock Co.Kane flow” though. Posdnuos introduces it as a “real” old school hip hop record then they play the first verse up to that stacatto break down. They then stop the track and do that beginning bit twice more before finishing. Maybe it’s because of MF Doom’s guest verse on the track but Maseo could do his verse in the same way that he does Redman’s intro when they play “Ooh”. Still it’s a minor gripe in an otherwise excellent show but I would like to hear them do that song all the way through just once.

Big on crowd participation, the De la Soul party gets everyone involved leading to a hyperactive live show. The good vibes they generate on stage are picked up by the crowd making them a safe bet when playing live. This is what live hip hop should be like and it’s a shame acts like De la Soul and Public Enemy are the exception rather than the norm when it comes to performing hip hop live.

Peace.

http://www.myspace.com/delasoul

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