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Review: Public Enemy return to London in beat-tastic style (Includes interview and first-hand account)

Supporting The Prodigy, Public Enemy have been touring Europe. The final leg of the tour brought them to London’s Wembley Arena and to an appreciative audience.

A man  with a Public Enemy t-shirt  waits in line for the concert.

A man, with a Public Enemy t-shirt, waits in line for the concert.

Public Enemy are a U.S. hip hop group. The group is made up of Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, The S1W group, Khari Wynn and DJ Lord. The group was formed in 1982. The group had a a celebrated album in the mid-1980s, titled It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and two powerful, politically charged and lyrically accomplished singles: “Don’t Believe the Hype” and “Bring the Noise.” The album is top 50 in U.S. and top 10 in the U.K. This album was followed by two more big sellers: Fear of a Black Planet and Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black. In later years, chart success has eluded the group although they continue to draw in sizable audiences for their live shows.

From these seminal works, the stand-out part of the show was the double billing of Bring the Noise and Don’t Believe the Hype.

Public Enemy perform at the 10 000 capacity Wembley Area in London (December 2015).

Public Enemy perform at the 10,000 capacity Wembley Area in London (December 2015).

There was also a thrilling solo set piece from the talented DJ Lord, who worked up some thrilling beats and powdered the audience into a frenzy. Another good offering was Rebel Without a Pause, with shrill sirens, a rich splattering of deep-dub funk and eclectic samples.

Public Enemy s DJ Lord in action at Wembley Arena  December 2015.

Public Enemy’s DJ Lord in action at Wembley Arena, December 2015.

Included in the set were some selections from the group’s thirteenth and most recent album, Man Plans, God Laughs (released in July 2015.)

The full set-list was:

Miuzi Weighs a Ton
Rebel Without a Pause
911 Is a Joke
Welcome to the Terrordome
Lost in Space Music
Show ‘Em Whatcha Got
Bring the Noise
Don’t Believe the Hype
Can’t Truss It
He Got Game
Man Plans God Laughs
Fight the Power
DJ Lord Solo
31 Flavors
Shut ‘Em Down
Harder Than You Think

The set and performance reminded this reporter of how relevant and socially in-tune hip-hop once was, before being replaced with blander, corporate style offerings. Public Enemy remain political and they are still aware. The songs still sound fresh, containing skilled and poetic rhymes matched by splendid sound collages.

Public Enemy in concert in London. Strong with political  social and cultural consciousness.

Public Enemy in concert in London. Strong with political, social and cultural consciousness.

The group made some poignant references to recent terror attacks in Paris and the U.S. Seeing intolerance, racism and segregation as the root of many of the world’s problems the band asked the audience to observe a moment of silence for the victims. Around three-quarters of the audience did so; unfortunately, a minority elected to talk and holler.

This aside, it was a good set by the group. The only downsides were the set beings reduced, due to the band playing a secondary role to The Prodigy (a double-blow, because Public Enemy were much better than the English group); and the stage being cramped. Because The Prodigy had their equipment stacked behind, Public Enemy had to groove around one-third of the stage.

Digital Journal rating: 4 out of 5. Public Enemy’s flame has not dimmed.

An alternate shot of Public Enemy performing in London.

An alternate shot of Public Enemy performing in London.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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