They’re top of my list of bands to see whenever they play in the UK and I’ve been going to see them live since they touched down for that legendary performance in Hammersmith back in 1987, so we’re back once again for another P.E. gig. Chuck D will be 54 in August (sharing his birthday with Professor Griff) and is now completely self-assured in his role as frontman for one of the greatest Hip Hop groups ever. The great thing about going to see them often is the fact that I’ve never seen them give less than 100% effort on stage. Backing group The Banned consisting of T-Bone on drums, Khari Wynn on guitar and legendary producer Davey DMX on six string bass can play with the looseness of a funk band one minute and the tightness of a hard rock outfit in the space of a song, and have added a dynamic element to the live shows for a few years now.
The S1W’s James Bomb and Pop Diesel are on either side of the stage executing their perfectly drilled routines, while the backbone of the show, DJ Lord executes precise cuts and scratches, taking it back to the days when the DJ was the star of the Hip Hop show.
Of course Flava Flav is also in the house (only Professor Griff is absent due to the usual visa issues) and the most well known hype man in Hip Hop does just what Flava does, hyping up the crowd, giving us extended sermons, playing Davey DMX’s bass, backing Chuck D up on drums and performing lead on “911 Is A Joke” and “31 Flavors” from their 2012 album “The Evil Empire of Everything”. For all their classic material, it is important to note that Public Enemy still release new albums. They also released “Most Of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear On No Stamp” in 2012 and play a couple of songs from that album, “I Shall Not Be Moved” and Chuck’s indictment of the current state of Hip Hop “Hoover Music” (with the great lyric “tell me why do you love it, songs meant to send you to prison”). Both are great additions to the canon of P.E. songs that couple great beats with Chuck D’s intense lyricism.
A Public Enemy show is now a great balance between this newer material and classics like “Timebomb” from their 1987 album “Yo! Bum Rush The Show”. Both Chuck D and Flav says this is one of their favourite older songs and that they both wanted to play it tonight. Other great songs like “Welcome to the Terrordome”, “Fight The Power”, “Public Enemy No. 1”, “He Got Game”, “By The Time I Get To Arizona” and “Don’t Believe The Hype” are classics that this sold out crowd have definitely come to hear and all elicit a huge reception.
They finish with “She Watch Channel Zero” after stating that the promoter has allowed them to go an hour over curfew to play a two and a half hour show. A testament to their dynamic set and the good vibes from the crowd.