Public Enemy in concert to end the week. A suspicious lack of Rap and Hip-hop on these pages over the years. Any particular reason? No – other than there are very few live/in-concert examples to choose from that aren’t audience tapes – and it’s been my policy (at least with the Soundbooth posts) to feature bands and artists in a live or otherwise spontaneous setting, rather than a studio/commercial recording because a: running a commercial recording cuts into the bands potential sales and b: is most often a radical departure from what a band/artist does in a controlled studio environment. Rap and Hip-Hop, to me, are wildly different in a live setting, than a studio setting. And I’ve always felt that its the one genre that is best experienced live – because of the energy exchange between artist and audience – you can’t get that in a recording studio.
They were a groundbreaking group and one of the most influential rap/hip-hop bands of the late 80s and 90s. And hearing them live, performing in a festival setting like this one at The Phoenix Festival in 1995, illustrates that better than anything else you can hear. The raw energy and boiling anger are abundantly apparent in this live show. And that, I think is the full intent of this genre; to be in your face – to lay it all out, with no frills and neatly wrapped packages. It’s the message – and it’s social and political and it’s urgent. You can be ambivalent when somebody drives by with their car cranking out hip-hop at 100 db – you can’t when it’s right in front of you, and you can’t look away.
As soon as I dig out their Glastonbury appearance from a few years ago, I will run that – in the meantime, an extended excerpt from Public Enemy at the 1995 Phoenix Festival.