That these three baggy-trousered scruffs from New York City have drawn and redrawn the map of hip hop over two decades is a well-documented fact that few would dare to argue with.
What mattered here, however, was the proof that the Beastie Boys can do so into their forties, taking the backyard breaks and beats they started out with into an arena show and creating an incredible show that feels disarmingly personal.
For those who may, on occasion, feel uncomfortably removed from any band they end up seeing in a venue that could house a Boeing 747, that much is a skill in itself.
It is, of course, a far shout from the days when Adam "MCA" Yauch, Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Adrock" Horowitz first plied their not inconsiderable talents around the dives of Brooklyn as an aspirant punk band in the early Eighties; or, in fact, when they assaulted the tastes of the world with the breakthrough single "Fight For Your Right" in 1986.
Many wrote them off as a lewd novelty act who would be lucky to last to the end of the next year, never mind the next decade. Yet here the Beasties' 2004 incarnation stands, their latest album To The 5 Boroughs having been as warmly welcomed by critics and public as the five which preceded it. The simple quality of each has a lot to do with this, as, no doubt, does the Beasties' charming, wayward, apparently egoless image. Yet here the possibly overriding reason was evident for all to see - the trio are quite simply outstanding showmen.
This outing is subtitled the Pageant Tour, and it felt like a festival weekend condensed into a couple of hours. To begin, we had the old-school Beastie Boys set - constant collaborator and utterly breathtaking DJ Michael "Mix Master Mike" Schwartz taking to his decks to usher Yauch, Diamond and Horowitz in freestyle MC mode. The Matrix-style live video feed on the screens behind them notwithstanding, three microphones and two turntables have undoubtedly never filled such a huge space quite like this before, with "Super Disco Breakin'" giving way to fan favourites such as "Sure Shot", "Shake Your Rump", the Curtis Mayfield-sampling "Egg Man" and recent single "Triple Trouble".
Then Schwartz's raised booth was replaced by what looked like a Seventies lounge bar on wheels. This was the Beasties in musician mode, crooning a perfectly-placed trio of mosh-defusing jazz-funk numbers while dressed in horrific cocktail singer suits. Soon they're back bounding around to the likes of "Body Movin'" and "Ch-Check It Out", while an encore of "Intergalactic" sees them reappear behind a security barrier at the back of the hall.
A President Bush-dedicated finale of "Sabotage" was the fitting end to a night that gave the audience absolutely everything it wanted.Reuse content