Live Review | Public Enemy – Metro Theatre, Sydney – 11 May 2012

Review by Robert Pugsley
Looking over the crowd at the Metro Theatre in Sydney I was surprised to see that I looked like everyone else – Yes, White Middle Class Suburbia had come out in force to see Public Enemy, DJ Lord and the current S1W crew. Although it shouldn’t really surprise anyone, Public Enemy have been, despite their militant bravado, quite accessible to the average non rap/hip hop public.

It’s been 25 years since they started performing out as Public Enemy, their anger levels have risen and waned but through it all they have carried the message of equality and respect. The message of peace and equality can make performers look like self indulgent cocks but Public Enemy really put their money where their mouth is and have built up a reputation where they can push their message and people are going to lend them their ears. Which is just as well, as there was a lot of talking and preaching at this gig but the crowd listened appreciatively.

DJ Lord started the beats and out came Chuck D, performing solo, well I knew there was not going to be any Prof. Griff at this gig but no Flavor Flav? Chuck D sung a bit then talked a lot, mainly about Adam Yauch and how good it is to be back in Sydney.

After a long conversation with the audience Chuck D exited the stage and Flavor Flav eventually strode on out, apologies for being late flowed unto Chuck D. As a gimmick it works, although I have heard about this routine before, it is entertaining and it does openly display the dynamics of Public Enemy – Chuck D being more reserved, more disciplined, the boss of the group as you will, and Flav being the erratic crazy guy, the class clown.

Public Enemy flowed out their back catalogue, stopped, talked for a while, sung again, stopped and talked for a bit longer. At most gigs this would be annoying but for Public Enemy it’s about the message and it works. The gig had a laid back vibe, kind of a jam session within a gig. Falvor Flav had a go at the bass and later had a go on the drums. The free flowing nature of just jamming on stage, having a chat, seeing what works, is part of the experiential nature of hip hop. It wasn’t bad, just different.

Overall the nuts the bolts of the gig saw them perform most of their hits. They did their best songs like ‘911 is a Joke’ ‘Don’t believe the Hype’ and threw some other songs into a medley mix which worked well enough.

The gig ended with DJ Lord playing some Nirvana riffs which merged into a full participation of ‘Black is Back’ and ‘By the Time I Get to Arizona’ and finally pumping out ‘Fight the Power’.

The gig had gone on for 2 hours and the roadies were packing up but Flavor Flav wanted to continue on. He was told the curfew was in place and they had to stop but Flav decided to chat and talk about peace and people power for the next 10 minutes.

Public Enemy are a bit older, a bit less mobile but they still have a fire in their belly, a determination to interact with their audience and to pass on their message of peace and equality, whilst being flanked by some huge guys from their S1W crew; sure that may give a mixed message but 25 years of honest and truthful hip hop has their audience knowing exactly who Public Enemy are and will always give them respect.

Review by Robert Pugsley –
Photos: Greg Morgan –

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