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Paul J Is Down With The PE!
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PE at a concert some time in 2008 Flavor Flav and Chick D at a gig somewhere in Europe in 2008.

Thursday the 1st o' January, I got to see Public Enemy again. The above image, which I pinched from Flickr, is a pretty much how they looked when I saw them - except mostly I had to peer through waving arms and around a lot of people taller than me!

The Espy has ripped out most of its internal walls in the last few years, even so, the front bar of the Espy seemed like an odd venue for a Public Enemy concert. Probably a reflection of, well, the passage of time I suppose. I mean, I had to explain to Deb the Girlfriend that Flavor Flav was from a band called Public Enemy.

They've been out here five times now, they told us. 1990, 1992, 1998, 2003 and the other night. And I was at the 1992 and 1998 gigs! Back in 1992, they played Festival Hall with... Ice-T. Yes, I have Ice-T records, lots of them. On vinyl, which will tell you how long ago I was into him. Back in 1998, they played the Palace in St. Kilda (may it rest in peace) with a very early incarnation of The Avalanches at the support. Back when the Avalanches where an interesting and quirky Rap band, with a theramin and various other actual instruments. Before they started cutting-and-pasting their music...

So, in 2009 they've moved down in size to the Espy front bar. I have no idea how many people can fit in the front bar of the Espy, but it sure looked like shitloads. Shoulder to shoulder that's for sure. And they played two nights, which must have been a couple of thousand people in total... Still not enough to fill the Rod Laver arena I guess. The Espy does, however, have impeccable credentials as a music venue, I've damaged my hearing there on many an evening. In fact I saw Saul Williams there about a month ago.

Having said that, the stage is not huge, and PE has a full band these days - DJ Lord, a drummer, a guitarist and a bass player. Who, I have to say, were not that crash hot. Plus Chuck D, Flavor Flav and two members of the S1W (Security of the First World), there wasn't a lot of space on stage. That's eight people, not to mention the two sound guys... Makes one wonder if they came out ahead playing the Espy, that's ten people they would have had to fly out here.

Anyway, they didn't go on till nearly two in the morning, so I'm glad this gig was on while I was on holiday! The majority of the gig was a complete performance of It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, as something of a 20th/21st anniversary tribute to the album. It includes such songs as "Bring the Noise" and "Don't Believe the Hype" and one of my personal faves, "Channel Zero" - I'm particularly partial to songs with serious guitar samples... But it also includes some less than riveting numbers, which they did anyway.

It's always hard to tell just how "live" a Public Enemy gig is, because clearly some of the tracks were basically backing tapes with Chuck and Flav singing over them - to the extent that some of the backing included some of their vocal loops. To their credit though, they did a convincing demonstration that they can sing random chunks of any song they ever did, down to repeated syllables and other intonations.

After "A Nation Of Millions", they did a smattering of other tracks like "Welcome to the Terrordome". I think I counted three, maybe four tracks that had came out since 1990... Hey, if you've got a heyday, might as well celebrate it. It was also odd to hear them invoke Terminator X, who hasn't been in the band for nearly ten years!

Almost unconsciously I was dancing towards the end. They might not have done a complete album that I liked since 1992, and they may spend faaaar to much time talking between songs, but they're still Public Enemy, and they've still got it. Knowing each song word for word doesn't hurt.

Turn it up! Bring the Noise!

Needless to say, I didn't get home till 4.30AM. I'm getting a bit old for this sort of thing :-)
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New Years Day has always been a breaks party @ the Espy ;) It always features big names too big to fit in that venue for it to be fun, ya best bet is to grab a seat just outside the front door. Everyone walks past to show their tickets at the door, while you sit comfortably. I haven't tried it, but you could probably just have one guy with a ticket fetching the drinks for the table ;)

LOL @ Ice-T... I once thought he was tough, when he fronted that band, I can't even remember the name of it. Yeah, he and the band left a long lasting impression :P

"Don't Believe the Hype" is the title of my LJ. It applies to the world, talk about me, and for the shit that I talk. Don't believe any of it folks, wait and experience it then make your call ;)

Glad you had a good one!
-gleep

The name of the band you're looking for is "Body Count". I have their first album, which is ok I guess. Their second and subsequent albums have been crap and I never bought 'em.

As for his rap albums, he lots me around the time of "OG", which must have been 1991. One can take only so much macho sexist shit head :-)

Re: Ice-Motherfucking-T

OG, crime, drugs, shooting, macho, sexist and now bling-bling shit is the reason people don't consider hip-hop worth listening to. I like PE for the politics, and the awesome sound :)

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