There was a time when this Gods of Rap line-up would have been the hottest ticket of the year.
De La Soul, Public Enemy and Wu-Tang Clan plus Gang Starr’s DJ Premier – then what’s not to like?
Well, what’s not to like in 1993?
In 2019 it wasn’t quite the winning combination of Daisy Age enlightenment, political rabble rousing and mystical weirdness it could have been.
It’s fair to say it got better as it went on and during the Wu-Tang’s set they touched the heights of greatness, it’s just a pity there was a certain unevenness about the whole evening.
I didn’t catch all of De La Soul’s set and much of what I did see was from behind a big queue of people waiting to get down the stairs and on to the floor so maybe I’m judging what seemed to be a largely listless performance a little harshly.
But compared to the zing and playfulness of what I still consider to be one of the best five hip-hop albums I own in 3 Feet High and Rising, then it was disappointing to say the least.
I settled in next to Matt and Dave who I had last been to a gig with to see N*E*R*D and the arena had filled up considerably by the time a re-tooled Public Enemy took the stage – and with Chuck D leading from the front, as ever, we were treated to a clutch of classics the power of which has barely been dulled by age.
Sadly, the line-up didn’t include Flavor Flav which meant a little too much earnestness at times and too little levity.
Anyway on to the main event.
Wu-Tang Clan were very good indeed, featuring an almost complete roll call of members and crushing some absolute standards like Protect Ya Neck and Bring Da Ruckus. There was even a bizarre cover of The Beatles Come Together, albeit with bespoke lyrics.
A word also for the crowd. In arenas it’s often soulless and dull waiting for the bands and, frequently, during them as well.
Not here. This was an engaged, boisterous audience out to appreciate some hip-hop heroes.