Public Enemy in Vancouver (Live) [Review/Photos]
Vancouver, BC – There is hope for hip-hop, and that hope lies in the longevity of groups like Public Enemy, who brought their 26-year strong live show to Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom on Sunday December 22, 2013.
The classic air raid siren that opens the legendary It Takes A Nation of Millions album rang out through the Commodore. Two S1Ws took to the stage, backed by The Banned and DJ Lord, and it was official: Public Enemy were in the building!
Public Enemy has evolved over the years, retiring DJ Terminator X for the seemingly younger, more agile DJ Lord. Professor Griff was noticeably absent, but original S1Ws James Bomb, Brother Mike, and traveling sound-man Brother Drew all made the trip. However, Chuck did lambaste the Customs and Immigration officials for wielding authority over who does and does not enter the country, alluding to the possibility that some of the entourage may have been denied entry into Canada.
The S1Ws set it off, with their traditional F.O.I. inspired military drill. Chuck D, the Hard Rhymer, then bursts onto the stage, looking remarkably fit for a 53-year-old MC. Chuck ran down a verse off their 2013 single “Get Up Stand Up” and then introduced the S1Ws individually, along with The Banned, PE’s live band consisting of Khari Wynn of Memphis Tennessee on guitar, Davy D on bass, and Mike Faulkner on drums.
Chuck then went into 1988’s classic “Rebel Without a Pause,” with Flavor Flav running out on stage to the cheers of Vancouver fans. Flav stopped to show love to the fans for the years of support, and spoke of his love for Canada, and the fun he’s had filming various TV shows in BC.
Several times throughout the night, Vancouver fans were encouraged to support local hip-hop, and local artists were assured that Chuck will play independent material on his RapStation.com website.
Public Enemy displayed considerable growth from the crew of pro-black militants who Bum Rush[ed] the Show back in 1987. The anti-establishment undertones are still central to PE’s message, however 26 years of touring the world and being received by every walk of life has broadened PE’s worldview, evidenced by Chuck telling the crowd not to be a particular nationality but to be a citizen of Earth; coining the term “Earthizen.” Chuck also appears to have evolved to the point of being able to laugh, dance and generally have fun on stage, a role traditionally reserved for Flav.
PE were ever humble in acknowledging their status as the fourth rap group to be inducted into the Rock N Roll hall of fame, citing those who came before them (Run DMC, LL, Beastie Boys, and Whodini) as truly deserving the recognition.
PE’s addition of The Banned solidified the funky, soul-filled sound of the Bomb Squads sample-heavy tracks, allowing PE much more flexibility musically. Flav was also able to show fans that his value to the group far exceeds that of a hype-man, or simply the antithesis to Chuck’s serious political stances. Flavor Flav proved that he is actually an accomplished musician, playing drums and bass guitar to the fans’ delight at several points throughout the show. PE also took time to introduce and showcase the members of The Banned individually, having each member display his exquisite mastery of his instrument.
The Commodore’s energy-filled crowd – consisting of every hue, creed, orientation, and musical taste to be found in Canada – gives hope, or perhaps even certainty of the strength and longevity of real Hip-Hop.
Written by Divine for HipHopCanada
Photography by Machete Cortez for HipHopCanada