Public Enemy brought the noise to Dover on Friday with the seminal hip-hop act playing The Backyard Stage at the Firefly Festival.
The freshly-minted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members celebrated the 25th anniversary of “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” by performing their seminal sophomore record from start to finish, taking the stage with an incendiary performance of “Bring The Noize,” followed by “Don’t Believe the Hype” and the “Cold Lampin’ with Flavor,” the first track to exclusively feature America’s most notorious hype-man.
Once considered the most dangerous act in music, Chuck D and Flavor Flav, now both in their 50s, brought original member Professor Griff and live-performance staples, the S1Ws, with them to the Firefly stage, as well as guitarist Khari Wynn, who led a full backing band that also included bassist Brian Hardgrove and drummer Michael Faulkner.
DJ Lord, who joined the group following the departure of Terminator X in 1999, paid a nod to his predecessor with a new take on “Terminator X to the Edge of Panic,” that began with the familiar sample from Queen’s “Flash’s Theme” before blending into turntable medley of The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
After performing “Louder Than A Bomb,” “She Watch Channel Zero,” “Night of the Living Baseheads,” and “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos,” Public Enemy made an impromptu departure with “Timebomb,” a track off of their debut “Yo! Bum Rush the Show” that included Flavor on drums and Chuck playing harmonica, before returning to their 1988 record for show closers “Rebel Without a Pause” and “Prophets of Rage.”
The outspoken politics that pushed Public Enemy from hip-hop icons to media firestorm in the late 80s and early 90s was kept to a minimal onstage Friday aside from Chuck D warning the audience, “The NSA is in your house, in your backyard and in your pockets.”
Surprisingly, it was Flavor Flav, who members of the Firefly generation likely know best from his second act as a reality television star, who brought the show to an end with a call of unity.
“There are two things I hate,” he told the audience. “One of them is racism. I hate a racist [mikey fickey]. The second thing I hate is something called separatism. Being separate is how we got world wars and gang wars. No matter your race or color, we all part of the world we live in and we’ve all got to stick together.”