[MUSIC: Live Review] Public Enemy, Seth Sentry @ Metro Theatre, Friday May 11
Public Enemy, Seth Sentry
Friday May 11
Chuck D once said “Radio – suckers never play me!” – but they sure will play Seth Sentry. He raps about scuzzy sharehouses and pretty waitresses and comes off like Public Enemy’s polar opposite. Seth isn’t about to fight the power, but he does show off some mic skills to a sparsely populated room.
20 minutes later air-raid sirens wail, the lights dim, and a spry Chuck D bursts from the wings. He launches straight into ‘Public Enemy No 1’ from 1987s Yo! Bum Rush The Show. The Metro goes bananas. Chuck’s razor-sharp baritone is mixed perfectly with his band while two camouflage-wearing guards, the S1Ws, do a Motown-meets-the-military synchronised march. Flavor Flav hides in the wings until the song is over and then enters to the gleeful howls that only living legends receive. He greets us with a golden-grilled smile and tells us a story about how the Beastie Boys brought Public Enemy out on their Ill Communication tour way back in 1987. Flav says that we could do a moment of silence for the recently deceased MCA, but “MCA wasn’t a quiet motherfucker.” He requests us to make 30 seconds of noise in his honour, and it’s a deafening but quite emotional tribute.
Flav whips his clock out, and ‘911 Is A Joke’ puts us immediately in party mode, where we stay for two hours. And that’s just the thing – it’s all so much fun. I thought Public Enemy might be weighed down by age and the circus of politics, but Chuck and Flav are happy ringmasters who lead us through an incessant barrage of golden-era hip hop classics. They rip through ‘Bring The Noise’, ‘Shut ‘Em Down’, ‘Too Much Posse’, ‘By the Time I Get To Arizona’, ‘My Uzi Weighs A Ton’ and many more with energy and joy. Chuck D’s presence is commanding throughout while Flav comes off like his pesky but loveable, hyperactive little brother who, when not rapping, is playing bass or drums, clown dancing or pulling off monstrous stage dives with his skinny limbs and oversized clock flailing through the air. They close with a ferocious ‘Fight The Power’ and I’m left happily bewildered that after 25 years, Public Enemy are still showing the world how it’s done.