London Kentish Town Forum

There's [I]nothing [/I]that could possibly prepare you for the sheer rush of [B]PE[/B]'s appearance onstage....

There’s [I]nothing [/I]that could possibly prepare you for the sheer rush of PE‘s appearance onstage. Sirens, samples, a wave of turbulent blare, and Chuck, lithe and energetic as ever, lashing into the fateful lines of ‘Prophets Of Rage’: “I’m keeping/You from sleeping…”.

And this is an almighty wake-up call. As Flav leaps on for ‘911 Is A Joke’, clock swinging about crimson jump suit, the iconic weight of Public Enemy hits you. Through fame, infamy, righteous exile and righteous rebellion, and now here, right here.

Yeah, we’ve waited four years for this, but, as match hits touchpaper, it becomes apparent that Public Enemy are still vital. We still need them. The melee of instantly recognisable hooks and samples confirms the faultless pop knack PE always had, while the unrelenting sonic chaos (no space between the beats, the blitz of breaks) succeeds in dramatising the exact moment of conflict that PE forever occupy.

If rebellion is truly the essence of rock’n’roll, then Chuck, clutching the mic and launching into his tirades, is the absolute apex. In a pop landscape where middle-class white boys habitually flirt with blackness and homosexuality to attain some delicious, fleeting outsider status, Chuck isn’t a rebel without a cause, he’s a rebel without a choice, outsider status dictated by his skin colour.

A blistering ‘Fight The Power’, several dozen other classics, and a Flavor Flav solo spot later, it’s over. Any gripes – too little from ‘There’s A Poison Goin’ On’ and ‘Muse Sick N Hour Mess Age’ – are minor. The clock’s still ticking, but PE are still kicking. It would seem not even a nation of millions could hold them back.

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