Words by Shaolin Steve
Common Sense @ the Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
Common's last date on his recent 8-week tour played to a packed venue of 400 or so eager fans. Originally supposed to be performing in October, the two month delay would prove well worth the wait. UK Hip-Hop crew 57th Dynasty warmed up the crowd with the anthemic and consciousness-raising "Still Rise Up". They dropped a few other tracks but none that matched the intensity of their first assault.
Common appropriately opened up with "Time Travellin", and that's just what he was intending to do. Supported by a live band that included bass and acoustic guitarists and a trumpeteer, Common changed costume on a regular basis, as did his crew - from black panther outfits with fists raised, to Jackson 5 afro's and flares. Common delighted the crowd when he stormed the stage dressed up as George P. Clinton - with the entire crew looking like Parliament/Funkadelic - and then dropped 'Make my funk the C-Funk' before easing into 'Funky For You'. Common spoke to the crowd of his travels in London, and his visits to the guards at Buckingham Palace, before blowing the roof off with 'The 6th Sense', a track that I for one had been dying to hear, and it seemed the rest of London had too! Naturally, 'G.O.D. - Gaining One's Definition' was also on the agenda, and Com's insights into human endeavour were well represented.
The highlight of the evening had to be Com's rendition of 'I Used to Love h.e.r.' Taking it back to the old skool, the performers were dressed in blue Adidas tracksuits, (Common in red) with floppy hats and big chunky glasses a la Run-DMC. Another excellent performance was 'The Light' - Common insisted that every ruffneck loved at least one lady in his life, even if it was his grandmother or his daughter, and consequently invited a young lady on stage to dance with him. A freestyle toward the end confirmed this superstar's talent as a gifted MC, and he gave props to London while he reminisced of his shopping trips in Camden and how he cut through the London fog to bring the light.
Common is an outstanding performer with many faces, and it is clear from his live act that he has not only revolutionised Hip-Hop, but he has also resurrected jazz, soul and funk, and brought them together into one powerful force that inspires creativity and positivity in anyone who is lucky enough to hear his music. My only hope is that he returns to London in the near future, and with his time travellin' skills, that shouldn't be too much effort.