Bring the Noise!
Well, August welcomed me with sun that never appeared – in addition to dumping me with rain while I cycled back to my flat. For the most part, I haven’t done anything super exciting recently…
Except get hooked on the Commonwealth Games – the world’s second largest multisport competition and the British Commonwealth’s version of the Olympic Games. As the United States is not a member of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Games are not on the radar of 99.9% of Americans. But as they’re being held in Glasgow this year, they’ve received a lot of attention here. And it’s quite fun watching the Commonwealth Games on the BBC platforms as (a) there’s no NBC to aggravate me and (b) the event hasn’t gotten too big like the Olympics.
However, July concluded with a lot of noise – and aggravation. Public Enemy came to Leeds on the eve of Chuck D’s 54th birthday, performing at the O2 Academy, a venue adjacent to Millennium Square. I had never been there before, but it is one of the city’s major live music venues. Having seen Public Enemy perform in Lille once and at the Fuji Rock Festival, I was all set to enjoy the show in Leeds.
Except that the flash on my camera wouldn’t cooperate. I don’t need to rehash my camera issues but it was annoying me to the nth degree (especially since I haven’t figured out how to take good pictures on my mobile phone). As evidenced by the content of this blog entry, I was able to take pictures without the flash but most of them were blurry. Because I was in such a foul mood, I was mentally tuned out while the first of the opening acts was performing.
Anyway, the second opening was named DJ Chillout Chuck and he played some “motherfuckin’ real hip-hop.” Or maybe, it was “real motherfuckin’ hip hop.” In any case, we were treated to old school joints. Speaking of old school hip-hop, someone (I forgot whom) invited audience members to breakdance on stage. Several did and all of them had pretty good moves.
As for whom everyone came to see, the S1Ws and the other relatively nameless members of the group took the stage first. Then Chuck D made his grand entrance to perform the first song of the evening. But something was obviously missing… where was Flava Flav? Was it possible that the Home Office didn’t allow him to enter the country? Unfortunately, Flava Flav wasn’t in the house (along with Professor Griff) when I saw PE perform at the Fuji Rock Festival. The Japanese government barred him due to past drug issues.
I was thinking that someone similar happened until…
Mr. William Drayton ended up making his grand appearance. Better yet, he came prepared with his most famous accessory – a clock!
(I hope you’ve figured out what the stage name of William Drayton is 🙂 )
As for the music, although Public Enemy has continued to record throughout the years, they did the expected: largely perform songs from their classic It Takes a Nation to Hold Us Back album and a few other hits. Years ago, Chuck D said Public Enemy was a rap group with a rock edge. Sure enough, one song they performed included a sample of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and DJ included a portion of a Rage Against The Machine song in a tune he mixed.
Of course, any Public Enemy performance has to include “Fight the Power.” Seemingly, a band’s most famous song ends a show. However, there was more after Public Enemy did the theme song from Do the Right Thing. Flava Flav performed a solo set – including a song that was half tribute to Michael Jackson, half diss of Dr. Conrad Murray. Mr. Drayton also did a song during which he invited ladies to come on stage and shake it – which was followed by a passionate and expected appeal for peace, love and respect (Expected because he did that at my first Public Enemy show).
I’m obviously glad I was able to see Public Enemy for a third time – and I don’t take it for granted at all (Chuck D actually told the audience he was certain it was the first time PE had ever performed in Leeds among its thousands of shows. But Flava Flav corrected him on stage). It is awesome they came to my city and I have no idea if there will be a fourth time (Chuck D said on stage that he and Flava Flav are a combined 109 years old). However, I didn’t enjoy the concert as much I should have (I actually looked at my mobile phone several times during the show to see what time it was). Unfortunately, I had a feeling upon entering the O2 Academy that I wouldn’t enjoy the show as I did the Michael Franti & Spearhead show I attended in Manchester in May. Oh well.
On the other hand, Hyde Park provided me the most fun in the last couple of days. But that fun didn’t emanate from the ParkRun – Yesterday was Unity Day, an annual event celebrating the LS6 area (the postcode for Hyde Park and most of my Leeds stay thus far). All of the performers are supposed to have a tangible association to the LS6 postcode. It’s a free event with lots of food (overpriced as usual but there was some samosa for one pound), music, dancing, groovy clothes to buy, stands (Representatives from the local Green Party and a pro-Palestinian group were on hand) and…
Weed. There was a section of Hyde Park home to a stage with a DJ was playing reggae/dancehall and a nearby stand selling Rasta-themed memorabilia. Combine dreadlocked young people, reggae and open space and you get the smell of Mary Jane. However, the reggae blasting from that part of Hyde Park wasn’t the best music playing at Unity Day. The rock band pictured below had a jazzy funk feeling and they were fun to dance to.
Unity Day was pretty fun. It’s quite risky planning outdoor activities in this country – because the weather seems to change every five minutes. Earlier in the day, it rained quite hard for a few minutes. But fortunately, the weather was quite clear when I arrived. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked at Unity Day. But the event reminded me why I liked living in Hyde Park. The neighborhood has a youthful edge and community feel (Someone actually put up a board soliciting suggestions for neighborhood improvements), which is unfortunately absent in my current section of Leeds.
Now that I think of it, I should bring more money when I attend such festivals.