pink adidas trainers Live Reviews
Talib Kweli is on familiar turf as he opens the show for the Beastie Boys, back in Manchester after a gap of, oh, a least a week since he played the Apollo supporting Kanye West. While the crowd have hardly had to wait as long to see him as they have the main act, he is rapturously received by those who dragged themselves away from the bars and toilet queues long enough. He rewarded their attention with some tracks from his new album, a ‘duet’ with Mary J Blige (no, she wasn’t there) and some old skool Michael Jackson records in between.
Having returned to Manchester so soon, his freestyle about the city was clearly well practised, managing to fit in the Happy Mondays, Joy Division, Factory Records and Manchester United. Next time he should try for Simply Red as well. Such quibbles aside, he did a great job of getting the crowd jumping ahead of the arrival of the Beasties, by which time the arena was as full as it was going to be (with strategically placed curtains blocking off the seating sections at the back which would have been conspicuously empty otherwise.
First up for the Boys was DJ Mix Master Mike, whose journey from backstage is followed on the large screens before he finally emerges on stage, working the crowd up into a frenzy with some bravura beats.
When the three hyperactive MCs bounce into view, the arena is just about ready to explode, which it does during opener Root Down. AdRock and Mike D in particular are like a couple of whirling dervishes (look it up!) on stage, constantly racing round it getting the crowd going, while MCA takes it little easier. Must be something to do with the grey hair.
The Beasties have certainly moved on since their first UK tour back in the 80s, with its giant inflatable penis, but their stage show is no less hilarious, with the screens occasionally showing “You’ve Been Framed” style clips, best of all being the kung fu kitten during an electric Sureshot. With parts of the gig being recorded for Radio 1, the boys were keen to get the crowd involved, especially in the call and response Time To Get Ill. In their uniform adidas tracksuits and caps, the Boys hardly looked their age, and certainly weren’t acting it, much to the delight of the fans.
Nine songs in, they disappear off stage again, leaving the Mix Master to get everyone dancing before being replaced by a lounge band who get wheeled to the front of the stage to play three jazz funk tunes. However impressive the Beasties may be playing this kind of music and they certainly have a future in Vegas if the hip hop bubble ever bursts you can sense more than a little impatience from the crowd, even when AdRock introduced Something’s Gotta Give with a dig at the Bush administration. When they jog off, Mix Master Mike gets back in action and the gig comes alive again.
With a second costume change, the MCs are soon back with new single An Open Letter To NYC, followed by another from To The 5 Boroughs, Right Right Now Now. The show is briefly halted during one track while the Boys ask the crowd surfers to quit it, getting a huge round of applause from everyone else, especially those at the front who were getting kicked in the head with alarming regularity. The plea even works, for a while anyway. 3 MCs and 1 DJ is another highlight, while Body Movin’ gets the crowd jumping as one, and after So Whatcha Want, the Beasties disappear yet again.
For the encore, the crowd go wild at the first strains of Intergalactic and then spend most of the song looking up at the screens and back down at the stage, trying to work out where the guys are. By the time those at the front have finally realised that they are on a little stage at the back of the arena, the song is almost over and they’ve run off again. This frustration almost boils over when the house lights go on to loud boos. Fortunately, the band are wheeled back on in full on rawk mode to thrash through Gratitude and Sabotage (which is also dedicated to Bush). So, a typically raucous, entertaining and bewildering show from the Beasties, and hopefully we won’t have to wait another five years to see them again.