Gig Reviews

Public Enemy – The Metro, Sydney 11/05/12

Seth Sentry may have been fresh off the plane from Brisbane, but it’s the audience that seemed jet-lagged as early attempts at crowd interaction were met with a lackluster response. However, Sentry persevered and began to win over the still-arriving punters with his casual style and smooth lyrical flow. The Melbourne rapper lead The Metro in chants of ‘Public Enemy’ and ‘Fight the Power’ as things loosened up and the room’s energy level began to build. As rapport between MC and show-goers improved, Sentry opened up, and dedicated his tune Train Catcher to anyone who has a ‘fuck-head’ ex-partner.

When the familiar opening keys of The Waitress Song played, everyone was warmed up and ready to go. With a set that included his rapper tag verse and concluded on latest single My Scene, Seth Sentry left the stage with the fans feeling good.

As anticipation built for Public Enemy, the roadies got a rise from attendees chanting, ‘pump it up’ and ‘a’ight’ during soundcheck with the crowd reciprocating in kind. A warning siren blared and power fists were raised as the stage began to fill with DJ Lord (sporting ninja mask), the live band and army soldiers, who occasionally busted out in militarised, synchronised dance.

By the time the legendary Chuck D hit the Metro stage, the audience was jacked. Chuck opened up the set before being joined by his fashionably late partner in rhyme Flavor Flav, who was greeted with calls of ‘Yea Boyee’. Between the two hip hop icons, the audience was informed that this tour marked the seventh time PE has visited Australia in their 25-year existence; the first tour being the support act for the Beastie Boys on their Licence to Ill Tour.

Flav stated that rather then 30 seconds of silence to honour the recently passed MCA, the crowd should make 30 seconds of noise because, “MCA was not a silent motherfucker”.

Soon after Flav delivered his first ‘Yea Boyee’ of the evening, he whipped out his clock (still analog) and launched into 911 is a Joke. At this point there was so much weed in the air that a second-hand buzz was almost unavoidable.

Chuck D promised PE would get old school and delivered with snippets of Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight and Mc Lyte’s Cold Rock a Party. Public Enemy’s own classics flowed from Welcome to the Terrordome, Bring the Noise and Don’t Beleive the Hype; each sounding as fresh as ever thanks to the live instruments and age-defiant frontmen.

Flav backs up his claim of being the greatest hype man ever by slappin’ a little bass and hopping behind the drums at various points during the set. Not to be outdone, DJ Lord span an incredible mix of White Stripes and Nirvana, which might seem out of place at hip hop, but only continued to build on the already enormous enthusiasm of the crowd.

The setlist ranged across the band’s discography, including 1987’s Cold Lampin’ With Flavor, 1991’s Can’t Truss It (which Chuck dedicated to the Indigenous people of Australia) and 1998’s He Got Game. In-between songs, Chuck D and Flav told many a tale; including the fact that their bassist produced Kurtis Blow and how Chuck got his a tattoo in Australia to commemorate PE’s 20th anniversary.

Can’t Do Nuttin’ For Ya Man and Fight The Power came at the end of an epic night, complete with Flavor Flav crowd surfing. Although there was no time for an encore, Flav stuck around a little longer to make sure everyone got their money’s worth. With a ‘fuck anti-immigration’ mentality, Flav left the crowd with a message of racial harmony, then seamlessly plugged his and Chuck’s Twitter accounts.

Chuck D, Flavor Flav and co put on one hell of show and proved they’re not even close to getting tired. Music with a social and political conscience will always be relevant, and thus so to will Public Enemy…

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