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Believe the hype; Public Enemy turn back clock to prove they're world beaters, even on an off-night.


PUBLIC ENEMY ABC, Glasgow 22.04 Twenty-six years after they first hit the hip hop scene, there's still nobody to touch Public Enemy.

Even on a night like this one, when they clearly weren't at the top of their game, the New Yorkers were still miles ahead of the competition.

The dynamic between frontmen Chuck D and Flavor Flav is a huge part of this appeal.

Chuck is the stern voice of authority, spitting out volleys of furious social commentary and was, as always, complemented by Flav's wildman act.

The pair combined to be greater than the sum of their parts. Add one of the best back catalogues in music, never mind in hip hop, and you know that no matter what, you'll be in for a show.

They were backed by a full live band who brought a heavy, rocked-up vibe to the night, as well as DJ Lord, a turntable wizard who kept the sound true to its hip hop roots whenever the band cranked up those big riffs.

Never a nostalgia act, Public Enemy stomped on stage to a newer track, the brilliant Get Up, Stand Up with Chuck blasting one per centers over the top of a slow, thunderous bass groove. It was a low-key start but no less thrilling for it.

As good as it was, there was something missing, namely Flavor himself. We needn't have worried though, as the band's court jester exploded on to the stage to a huge cheer during the second track, the rolling, dirty funk of Can't Truss It.

Flav wasted no time going into his routine, pointing out the absence of his trademark clock necklace. "I swore I wouldn't take off my clock until Public Enemy were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame! Well, guess what? We made it! But don't worry, I still got me another one."

Sure enough, he spun another clock round that had been hanging down his back as the crowd bellowed their approval over the first bars of 911 Is A Joke, a dense, chaotic slab of dark funk.

Welcome To The Terrordome followed and saw Flav rabble-rousing as the band twisted the song into the chorus loop from Chic's Good Times, scratched into the mix by the always-impressive DJ Lord.

It was brilliant stuff but there was just something slightly off with Chuck and Flav, a noticeable lack of energy and movement, with none of the usual bounding across the stage. It didn't spoil the night by a long shot but certainly took the edge off it just a little.

Bring The Noise was delivered in its later incarnation as a collaboration with Anthrax, with the band cranking out big thrash metal riffs over some frantic percussion. Don't Believe The Hype was massive but even that was eclipsed by Fight The Power. A monster at the best of times, this time it was more bruising than ever.

The bass was heavier and the beats were funkier with Chuck and Flavor absolutely tearing it apart.

They closed with Harder Than You Think, their reflective return to form from a few years ago that perfectly balanced heartfelt emotion with wide-chested defiance.

They might not have been at their best but Public Enemy on an off-night are still one of the greatest live bands on the planet.



MILES AHEAD Chuck D and Flav take some beating

CLOCKING ON Flavor Flav brought a new necklace after Rock Hall of Fame entry
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 28, 2013
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