Red Box, Dublin, June 2nd, 2000
The Public Enemy Show. Ladies and Gentlemen, you've got to understand the difference between a gig and a show. This is a show. It is entertaining on so many levels. It consists not only of music but also dancing, bitching and political agitation.
As if the crowd needed their enthusiasm increased, a crew member hypes the crowd up, shouting "are you ready for Chuck D? ...are you ready for Flavor Flav?" The answer was positive of course no matter what the man was saying. Take the stage then the SW-11's. Without actually intending to be, their actions are curiously as outrageously camp as Steps. It might have something to do with their peaked caps, tight trousers and bulging muscles. Still this is a show and it has something for everyone. Professor Griff comes out to start the music. Getting the crowd ready for raw hip-hop.
Enter Chuck D and Flavor Flav to the exuberant crowd. With Chuck D however there's no visual fashion faux-pas, he seems to be just worrying about the beats and rhymes. The crowd pleaser, of course, is Flav - leaping onto stage in sun-glasses, big puffy jacket and an enormous red and white striped hat.
There is no questioning this band's passion after staging a 2 and a half-hours long show, outdoing most of their understudies. The band rip through signature tunes "Fight the Power", "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" and "Don't Believe the Hype". However, they manage to keep the gig from going cabaret by balancing it out with tracks from their latest offering "There's a Poison Goin' On". Through the aggression of their rhymes and the now legendary beats of their DJ, Public Enemy's influence is massively evident on today's outspoken musicians from the Asian Dub Foundation to Primal Scream.
There are bands out there who speak their minds and annual NME "the terrible state of music" issue is not justified. However there are more and more bands who seem to endlessly ramble on about sales figures and markets and are afraid to express their beliefs in case their album doesn't go into the top 10. Public Enemy have never been afraid to express their beliefs. Sometimes however you'd be left wondering how well researched they actually are on some topics.
As great as this band are, they shoot themselves in the foot by being more sycophantic than a middle class American tourist on St. Patrick's Day with a huge camera, Aran jumper and virtual shrubbery of shamrock by continually saying how great a crowd we are. Now at first it's nice to hear, then the feeling moves to "Aw shucks" and then it's "please stop and move on to the next song". When the Flavor Flav is continually saying it and delaying the show between every song it's time to change tactics. They start the political rant claiming "everybody knows they took Princess Diana out". They continue by going on by saying "F*ck the Queen" citing that she has no place in Irish politics when "her own back yard" is dirty enough. Public Enemy are no strangers to controversy. Professor Griff was fired from Public Enemy at one point after making anti-Semitic remarks in an interview with the Washington Times.
The show however rolls on with Flavor Flav taking the stage solo for a while to preview some new stuff from his imminent album "It's about time" with rapper Big Kas guesting. In the end the whole of Public Enemy show comes back together, playing over the allocated time to the extent that the promoter comes to the side of the stage to get them to stop playing.
Party over then. Public Enemy loved it, the crowd loved it. Hip-hop is alive, vocal and well. Yeah boyeeee.