De La Soul were a major force in the development of intelligent, conscious hip-hop and have been going on strong in recent years with a string of albums that haven't exploded across the mainstream pop consciousness in the way of 'Me, Myself and I' or '3 is a Magic Number' but have been ceaselessly inventive and generally rather cool. The crowd at their London gig on Saturday was a relaxed and thoroughly positive mix of folks, ranging from hard-core hip-hop heads to 80's nostalgia-trippers, united by the common goal of... well, just having a good time. You know?
Things were warmed up nicely by first support act MC TY on the mic with DJ Billy Bizness of the Enforcers on the decks, a pair of local boys who got a very warm welcome from the crowd for their skills, their unquenchable enthusiasm, and not least their slow-mo moonwalking to the tune of 'Rainbow'. Things cooled off a bit with the next act, a couple of Canadian guys whose name frankly escapes me. They suffered in that whilst unquestionably technically deft, noone really knew who they were or seemed particularly to care. And frankly, no-one's going to come off well when trying to follow a couple of guys slow-mo moonwalking to the tune of 'Rainbow'. By this point the crowd were wanting to De La their Souls! DJ Shorty blitz held back the tides for another twenty minutes, dropping old-school classic after old-school classic and building the tension up to the point where the joint was ready to, quite literally, blow up. Word. And then the band came on.
It was just all rather fucking ace from then on. De La Soul have been rocking parties for years, and they are very, very good at what they do. I've seldom enjoyed a performance so much, and I've VERY seldom seen such a fantastic atmosphere, anywhere. Everyone was loving it, from stagefront to rafters, the whole house heaving in unison, waving hands and busting moves. No assholes starting fights, none of the casual violence that passes for enjoyment at a rock gig, just a whole lot of people having a hell of a good time. There were downsides to the evening involving navigating night-buses and people puking in bags of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but these were all in the realms of Personal Tragedy. The band's performance and the gig itself were pretty much damn near faultless.