Public Enemy at O2 Academy (2 Dec ’15)



A rapid return to the O2 Academy in town after Courtney Barnett the previous night (see my review here). A change of pace this time for hip hop legends Public Enemy.

This was to be only my second ever proper hip hop gig, after Jungle Brothers at The Kazimier only fourteen months earlier, as reviewed here.

Due to lack of available staff at the train station, I bought my ticket from the newsagent, meaning I now have a shiny new Walrus ticket, the Merseyside equivalent of London’s Oyster card.

As Liverpool were playing in the League Cup that night, I got off at Moorfields and headed to the Lion to try to catch the first half. The reds were already a goal down, but I settled in while supping a pint of Wilson Potter’s Don’t Fall, a very nice hoppy blonde ale.

I then squeezed in a pint of the pub’s own Lion Returns, while the score went rapidly from 1-0 down to 2-1 up. I heard the reds’ third go in on the radio while walking up to the venue, but had to settle for finding about the fourth, fifth and sixth goals online during the gig!

The Age Of L.U.N.A

The Age Of L.U.N.A

Support act The Age Of L.U.N.A were already on stage when I arrived. They were a pair of rappers, Butch Arkas and Kyote Noir, with a guy with blue hair known as NKOK DJ-ing and doing electronics, and a soulful singer called Daniella-Louise Thomas.



MC Obeah

MC Obeah

I only caught about three of their tunes, which got the mood going pretty well for the main event, with No Fakin DJs continuing to ramp up the excitement with some great hip hop tunes, none of which I recognised.

The Drew then came out to continue warming up the crowd, teaching us ‘the rules of hip hop’ and leading various chants like “hell yeah”, “ariiiight” and “one love”. That kind of audience participation (with more to follow) grates on me at indie or rock gigs, but seemed to fit fine here.

After Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Shimmy Shimmy Ya, PE’s turntablist DJ Lord came out with rapper MC Obeah whose few tracks went down quite well.

After a bit more warming up from The Drew, finally Public Enemy took to the stage, although it was only Chuck D who I specifically recognised. There was no Professor Griff and even more disappointingly, no Flavor Flav.

Public Enemy

Public Enemy

Still, what we did have was Miuzi Weighs A Ton, a great track off 1987’s debut album Yo! Bum Rush The Show. Next up was Rebel Without A Pause from the following year’s seminal It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. And what was this? Yeaaaahhhh boy! It was Flavor Flav, hilariously rolling onto the stage on a Segway!

Public Enemy

Public Enemy

Flav brought the mood down a little, leading the audience in a moment of silence in memory of victims of terrorism around the world, but then took the lead on the utterly fabulous 911 Is A Joke, from their third straight classic album, 1990’s Fear Of A Black Planet.

Flavor Flav on bass

Flavor Flav on bass

Flav continued to surprise, playing bass on another track off Black Planet, Welcome To The Terrordome. The stage was full throughout most of the set, with live guitar, bass and drums as well as DJ Lord and the two frontmen. There was also two members of the S1W who performed the occasional rather camp dance routine, though they certainly weren’t meant to come across like that.

More old classics like Bring The Noise and Don’t Believe The Hype were interspersed with occasional newer tracks such as Hoovermusic, Lost In Space and the title track off this year’s latest album, Man Plans God Laughs.

Unfortunately one of their all-time classic tracks, Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos lost some of its groove and was rather murdered with excessive guitar fretwankery, but generally the old and new songs were all carried off expertly.

After Fight The Power, DJ Lord was left alone on stage to show off his skills, mixing Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and The White StripesSeven Nation Army to the delight of most of the crowd.

Flav and Chuck returned to the stage as a duo with the former getting behind the drum kit for Timebomb off the debut album. The stage then refilled, with the set ending with Shut ‘Em Down from fourth LP Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black and then the more recent Harder Than You Think, with a nod to The BeatlesDay Tripper riff.

Flavor Flav & Chuck D

Flavor Flav & Chuck D

I headed towards the exit, exchanging a brief exclamation of the wonderfulness of the evening with GetintothisPeter Guy, who I’d also bumped into the night before.

However, the show was still not really over as Flavor Flav lectured the audience on the perils of terrorism, racism and separatism, throwing in a bit of Edwin Starr’s protest anthem War.

Tonight’s t-shirt

I wore my yellow Stax Records t-shirt, as I own(ed) no hip hop tees, or anything at all similar, so I went for some soul, obviously a great influence on Public Enemy. There were absolutely loads of PE t-shirts in the crowd.

Others I spotted included The Clash, Ministry, Faith No More, Jurassic 5, Pink Floyd, Beastie Boys, Motown Records, Wu-Tang Clan and Iggy Pop.

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Here is some of the music from the night on Spotify:


3 responses to “Public Enemy at O2 Academy (2 Dec ’15)

  1. Pingback: 2015 in review | undilutable slang truth·

  2. Pingback: My early musical journey (1970-1987) | undilutable slang truth·

  3. Pingback: My 1988 – part two (July – December) | undilutable slang truth·

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