Flava Flav was in top form last night at the Ogden Theatre, from hamming it up informing everybody that Manny Pacquaio got knocked out in the sixth round to sharing the story of how he came to wearing the ever-present iconic clock around his neck. But it was when he grabbed the bass at one point during the set and slapped the strings with his gold-ringed fingers precisely thumping out the bassline for "Welcome to the Terrordome" that had the crowd fired up, and they were equally as awed when he stepped behind the drum kit and banged out the beat for "Time Bomb" and later went into an impressive solo during "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos."
Public Enemy took the stage around midnight last night with a bass line so loud it made your ears ring and eyes water. After serving as host for the evening for this traveling hip-hop classic caravan, Chuck D took the stage as a performer as the funky whistle from "Don't Believe the Hype" blared. The group's chemistry still seemed very sharp as the crew move through its more than hour long set, rocking "Can't Truss It," "Rebel Without a Pause," and the first verse of "Fight the Power," before Chuck demanded to hear only the bass going into a funky remix of the song.
The energy level was high and the performance was sharp. At one point, Flava Flav paused the crowd to take off his fur coat, revealing a second hoody, which he also removed, telling the crowd, "This is my American Express. I never leave home without it," as he pulled a clock from underneath his tee shirt, before punching seamlessly into "Bring the Noise." It is Public Enemy's 25th year anniversary, and the outfit is still in top form as though no time has passed. The crowd was hyped as Flav had the crowd repeating his signature slogan, "Yeah, boyeee!"
Chuck taunted the crowd playfully by saying, "I'm here to drop bombs, Denver; what ya gonna do?" He repeated himself several times until the crowd responded in unison and PE then dropped into "Show Em What You Got." Other highlights from night included Chuck stopping the band a bit later to let Professor Griff tell the crowd, "The music industry has been taken over by some guys called 'the Illuminati," but let's take back hip hop," and the crew also took a few moments to remember Terminator-X, before DJ Lord went into a mini-solo doing his best Araab Muzik impersonation with a Nirvana sample on the MPC. The group closed out the night with one last hype performance of "Fight the Power."
The night went long with Public Enemy performing for almost two hours, but it showed that these "Gods" still have a lot left in them and lots of fans who still love them. Flav, Chuck D, Professor Griff and the S1W's still possess the precise performance style that has cemented their legendary status in hip-hop. Honestly, you could've swore this was still 1987, and Yo! Bum Rush the Show had just came out.
Before PE took the stage, the night went smooth with Chuck D acting as the emcee of the evening, sharing insightful tidbits about each act before and after they performed. X-Clan's Brother J was the best opener, as he spit with vibrancy and clarity, especially when on a fast-paced freestyle a ccapella centered on how "We need to teach the next generation because we are about the uplifting of the children."
Schooly D, meanwhile, performed a high energy set that included him sliding into the mike James Brown style to "Please, Please, Please," but overall, he didn't seem at sharp as everyone else who performed last night. The crowd responded to him the most when he did the theme song to Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but he seemed to lose his rhymes twice, and he covered it up cleverly by saying, "if I die up here I'm gonna need...a titty." Chuck D re-emerged to save him, calling him hip-hop's Little Richard.
Monie Love played a great set for the ladies in the house, rocking some classic joints from other notable hip-hop ladies, like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah. Leaders of the New School only had member Dinco D, who held it down surprisingly well, until he stayed on stage longer than expected, losing the crowd in an impromptu freestyle.
Son of Bezerk and Awesome Dre kicked off the show with Chuck D introducing both groups and giving them praise as acts he was a big fan of before ever stepping into the rap game. Son of Bazerk in turn recalled how he knew Chuck when he was just a radio sports personality.
The night's overall theme was the social networking aspect of the tour, with Chuck D calling out people's twitter handles and Facebook links after every performance, also talking about his show, "And Ya Don't Stop," and their goal to boycott radio stations who don't play 40 percent of local records calling it "Occupy the Airwaves."
Personal Bias: I am drawn to socially conscious and anti-government rhymes. I have always been a big fan of Public Enemy and first seen them at Mile High Stadium in 1992, sneaking into my third concert ever.
Random Detail: Flavor Flav said he got the clock idea when a crack-head was selling them in the projects and Son of Beserk dared him to wear it to open up for the Beastie Boys.
By the Way: PE did perform a newer song called "I Shall Not Be Moved" which went over well with the crowd.
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