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Thursday, September 1, 2016

[Concert Review] PETE ROCK & CL SMOOTH in Coepnhagen

When it came to my knoweledge that one of my all time favorite groups of all time, Pete Rock and CL Smooth was about to put on a show in the intimate Copenhagen club Rust it was a no-brainer to show up and pay my respects and hear some true hip hop classics. The only set back was waiting around in this small crowded and hot club for at least 2.5 hours while the house DJ spun records loud enough to make small talk impossible. I even had thoughts of leaving the club prematurely, because three hours is damn long time to wait around for anybody. Anyway, I'm glad I stayed because as soon Pete Rock entered behind the turntables you could hear a sigh of relief from the aduience. Anybody familiar with Pete's body of work knows that he's not only an A-grade producer but also an excellent DJ so it was appropriate that the concert started with a short but sweet DJ set from the #1 Soul Brother. Staying away from hip hop he was playing a nice medley of soul and jazz classics before transitioning to a vintage P.R. beat which played while C.L. made his entrance like a boxer entering the ring. What suprised me the most is that CL sounds pretty much exactly like he does on record; some rappers sound horrible live - not the case here. With both wearing T-Shirts with the Mecca & The Soul Brother emblem it was slightly surreal to actually see these two brothers share the stage in a great mode, playing classic after classic and really engaing with the aduiece.

Given that they have a rather small discography as a duo they still managed to cram loads of music within the 75 minutes they performed. As I recall they didn't perform anything from the "All Souled Out" EP, neither any of the stuff from Pete's "Soul Survivor" albums. So aside from a hard hittng apperance of their Run DMC collaboration "Down With the King" it was all about "Mecca & The Soul Brother" and "The Main Ingredient": Together this makes for a very dope set, considering how the former mainly focuses on the ruff and rugged sounds of the group and the latter constitues the smoother, more laid-back vibe the duo perfected within the realms of hardcore hip hop. They probably performed around twenty songs all in all and their soulution to the lenght of such a performance was to for many songs perform only the first verse, hook, scratches, and sometimes second verse. Both Pete and CL clearly love the classic Soul of the '70s that they grew up on, and a beautiful thing that further showed Pete's power as a DJ was that he often started a jam by playing 30-60 seconds of the orginal sample before transforming it to the track we knew of from the Mecca & Soul Brother album. This had the crowd go nuts each and every time, and was a beautiful trick. They were both great with the audience, Pete speaking with his hands and CL inviting the crowd to hang on his every word. One of many highlights of the night came with the entire packed room singing every word to the chorus of "Take You There" while Pete turned down the volume of the beat to a whisper. Amazing stuff!

The night was full of highlights, but en early rendition of "Mecca & The Soul Brother", "For Pete's Sake", "Lots Of Lovin'" (another crowd paritcipation endeveaor), "The Basement", "One in a Million", "Sun Won't Come Out" "I Got A Love", "All The Places"; the aforemetioned "Down With The King", "Carmel City".... Fuck it, the whole night was a highlight in itself, and once "If It Aint' Ruff, It Ain't Right" faded out Pete and CL took a deep bow, shouted their thank yous to us for coming out ad telling us how much they loved Copenhaen. People gave polite applaus and cheers while most of us was left scratching out heads. Any dedicated fan knew that something was missing, no matter how good the concert had been they had stayed awya from "T.R.O.Y. (They Reminisce Over You)" - that's like Wu-Tang doing everything but "C.R.E.A.M." or Biggie skipping "Juicy" in his heyday. So as the duo started walking towards the scene exit I was htinking to mysef like "this can't really be it - can it?". Of course it was a little joke on the audience as they qucikly turned back asking the crowd if maybe they had missed doing a song - but if so, what could that be? So after loud cheers for "T.R.O.Y." the famous intro loop started blasting through the club and the crowd just went nuts. And when that classic saxophone hook and bassline hit it was just over with excitement. 

But this was far from just doing the track and then leaving, this was a full part engagement between Pete, CL and the entire audience. After about half of CL's first verse, Pete cut the track to complete silence before rewinding the joint to the beginning again. That infectious soprano saxophone melody was actually sung along with by the entire audience and Pete Rock creating a true party atmosphere that made CL's biographical verses even more potent. At about seven minutes in length "T.R.O.Y." was not only a splendid encore, it was cathartic, and a fitting sumation of the entire evening. Standing there, looking up at that stage and seeing the amazing chemistry that these two Mount Vernon brothers sharted with each other it's hard not to imagine that these guys are bound to hit the studio and record that long-awaited third solo album sooner than later. All in all an excellent concert that proved that age ain't nothing but a number. At least when you got a material of this caliber.

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