Saturday, October 14, 2006
Public Enemy at the Savoy
The infamous PE logo!
Flavor Flav rocks the Savoy!
Some of the crowd knew what time it was!
Chuck D and Stevie G
Earlier this week, Public Enemy played at the Savoy. Yes, that’s right, Public Enemy, one of the greatest hip hop groups of all time played in this here great People’s Republic of Cork for the first and possibly only time ever! While it might be fair to say that on a musical level Public Enemy have waned in the last ten years and have never quite managed to regain the inspirational heights of their first ten years, apart from the odd track here and there, it is important to look at Public Enemy from the right perspective.
Personally, I still remember the first time I listened to "Yo! Bumrush The Show", their first album, on a bootleg tape that some very kind hip hop heads in Carrigaline made for me as it was practically impossible to find any hip hop music in Cork back in those days. To say that I was literally blown away would be an understatement, the entire album was simply brilliant, an incredible synthesis of intelligent militant lyrics and skilfully crafted beats combined together into the distinctive PE sound that sent shockwaves through the commercial music world and added further fuel to the continued rise of Def Jam Recordings, who had already unleashed LL Cool J and were fast becoming one of the most pivotal and influential hip hop labels of the time.
Anyway, as luck would have it, I was on the guest list again, yes, I know, that’s twice in one week but you should never look a gift horse in the mouth apparently, so I convinced my good friend Betty the Sheep to tag along with me (you can read her musings about the night by clicking here) and I treated my younger brother, who’s a mad hip hop fan, to a ticket because that’s just how nice I am. :-) So off we went like the three musketeers sans D’Arthagnan on our merry way. Unfortunately, we missed Arm The Elderly, the support act, as we stopped for a drink at the Woodford on the way but I’m pretty sure that they didn’t notice that we were missing and I suspect they must have been thrilled to play support to the likes of Public Enemy.
When Chuck D and Professor Griff appeared on stage I was a little overawed and when Flavor Flav finally came out, the whole place erupted into applause. Come on, who doesn’t like Flavor Flav??? The guys a frickin’ legend and like don’t you just have to dig those clocks! To their credit, PE started churning out the hits from the get go and the large crowd seemed to be really enjoying it all and I’d wager that most of them were more than a little wrecked by the time the band left the stage over two hours later.
While personally I really enjoyed the gig and thought it was good if not brilliant, their sound felt more like a rock group than a hip hop group and given that they had a drummer and two guitarists playing with them, I suppose this isn’t surprising. However, my main complaint in this respect would be that this is not the same Public Enemy you would hear on one of their albums, in fact it’s an entirely different PE sound. Ok, I admit that it’s probably difficult to replicate in a live context the production techniques that go into generating a studio hip hop sound and also that many people might really enjoy the alternative live PE sound but for me personally it just wasn’t the same. On the other hand, seeing Public Enemy in the flesh was an experience in its own right and, at the end of the day, was well worth the effort. :-)
(By the way, thanks to Stevie G for letting me steal his photos without busting a cap in my ass!)
I don't know how many of their videos you've seen, and I can't remember the name of the track, but it shows concert footage which is from a late 80's London gig. At the front, there are 2 guys wearing matching bright blue tracksuits - step forward my older bro and his best mate... that's my PE claim to fame!
Time to move on.
Peace, out, mofo.
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