Public Enemy are back and in a huge way. Since 1987 this politically charged group have been influencing and entertaining, and twenty-five years later there is still no stopping then. They are taking Aus by storm for their 25th Anniversary with Groovin The Moo sideshows, and last night at Brisbane’s Hi-Fi was no exception. With the release of two new albums this year, the group proved once again that they will always be one to be reckoned with, not only in the world of hip hop, but in all realms of live performance as well.
The stage was set and the room was very quickly filling. Seth Sentry opened the show. He was entertaining, energetic and all-around a good performer. From his incredibly popular The Waitress Song to some crowd interactive freestyles, he got the crowed warmed and ready. However, a reality every support act has to face, the people weren’t there to see him, and they were eager to set their eyes on their hip hop heroes.
When Chuck D and Flavor Flav hit the stage, there was some anticipation as to whether these now fifty-somethings would deliver the same showboating and ridiculously energised performance that they are so often acclaimed for. They undoubtedly did. Kicking off the set with some of the big hits like 911 Is a Joke and conducting the dramatic reveal of Flav’s trademark clock, the audience was given exactly what they had come to see, and so much more. Flavor Flav was running around like a mad man, doing mad fly kicks and some serious crowd surfing, while Chuck D had a level of intensity in his performance that did not waver. The band were as tight as ever with DJ Lord doing some absolutely jaw-dropping features on the turn tables and the others following up with killer solos of their own throughout the show. At times even Flavor Flav wowed the crowd with his own sets on base guitar and drums. Mentions of the new albums were modest and only a couple of new songs were played. Chuck D made it very clear the aim of this show was not only to celebrate, but to thank the fans who have supported them for twenty-five long years.
The show was an outragous trip down memory lane for the group, entertaining the crowd between songs with anecdotes of how songs and members came to be and even paying tribute to the recently passed Adam MCA Young of the Beastie Boys. Public Enemy were celebrating their well-deserved quarter century milestone in style. A lucky few were even pulled on stage with the group throughout the night for the Beastie Boys tribute as well as for everything from rap battles to sing-alongs and to invites back stage.
Chuck D talked on stage about the group always wanting to give 150% in every performance they do, no excuses. They definitely delivered on that. With the new albums, Most of My Heores Still Don’t Appear On No Stamp and The Evil Empire of Everything, due out in June and September respectively, it’s hard not to wonder what more Public Enemy will have in store. Although, after all is said and done, the absolute highlight of the show was Flavor Flav singing the Jackson Five’s I Want You Back. Yeah, that happened, and it was awesome.