Public Enemy bring the noise to KOKO London

Upon arrival, one look around the sold out crowd at KOKO, London confirmed one thing – Public Enemy bring people together like no other hip-hop group has before or since. Ageing b-boys, punk rockers, metal heads and hip-hop purists all packed together eagerly awaiting the arrival of one of the most revered groups of all time at the end of another sweltering day in the capital, on July 25th.

London crew Caxton Press backed by their impressive live band Unexpected Guest, did a fine job of warming up an expectant crowd with a set of fiery and righteous hip-hop that had Chuck D singing their praises throughout the evening. The attention then turned to the imminent arrival of Public Enemy and the will he, won’t he, appear saga (due to his non-appearance at Glastonbury thanks to US immigration issues) of their ever-flamboyant hype man extraordinaire, Flavor Flav.

Once Chuck D appeared onstage and proceeded to let rip on the mic with the help of a rock-inspired backing band, the crowd erupted. An even bigger cheer occured when, two songs in, Flavor Flav leapt onto the stage creating a ripple of energy that traveled through the venue and lifted the spirits of all in attendance.

After all these years, Chuck D’s passionate booming voice still manages to be clearly heard through the almightily awesome racket created by his tight DJ, guitar, drums and bass featuring backing band. Consequently all the classics – including “Rebel Without a Pause,” “Don’t Believe the Hype,” “Welcome To The Terrordome” and the always-winning “Bring The Noise” – sounded as powerful as ever and had the rammed dance floor jumping in unison.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a P.E gig without some social commentary, and Chuck and Flavor duly delivere with some wise, choice words on Trayvon Martin and the need to support your own – such as the aforementioned Caxton Press. Witnessing two cultural icons bouncing off each other like a hip-hop Batman and Robin still fighting the powers that be is one of the finest sights in music. This was most evident during a fun, impromptu jam featuring Flavor on the bass then on drums whilst Chuck D freestyled along, before switching to playing the harmonica like a seasoned vet. As ever, Flavor proved to be the comedic foil to the more serious Chuck D. This was none more evident than the somewhat clichéd move of summoning a number of women onstage to shake their collective asses.

Ending the night on a triumphant note with a finale that included the epic, righteous fury of “Shut Em Down,” Public Enemy proved, much like Big Daddy Kane did at the Forum last year, that when it comes to live shows – the golden age of hip-hop still have their art down to a tee.