Pop: Middle-aged but still wicked

RUN DMC THE FORUM LONDON

FOR THE duration of Run DMC's set,a clutch of tiny children, presumably Run DMC offspring, jigged up and down excitedly at the back of the stage. And so they might, because right now they must be the coolest kids in their class.

Since Jason Nevins's remix of "It's Like That", the track that put Run DMC at No1 in the charts for seven weeks, the legendary rap outfit have resumed their esteemed position at the forefront of hip-hop. They have also doubled their profits with a whole new following, mostly young, ultra- trendy clubbers trying to discover what this new-fangled "old skool" sound is all about.

In 1983 this rap triumvirate from Brooklyn prompted a new direction in hip-hop governed by two turntables and a microphone. But sales started to dwindle in the mid-Eighties as their innocuous brand of rap was usurped by their more controversial counterparts Public Enemy and gangsta rappers Snoop Doggy Dog and Tupac Shakur.

Yet despite this fluctuating career, Run DMC still sound remarkably contemporary and, when you consider that their eponymous debut album was released at the same time as, say, Duran Duran's dreadful "Wild Boys", this is no mean feat.

Dressed in traditional hip-hop attire - Adidas shirt, black hat and shades - Jam Master Jay pranced on to the stage, shouting "If you know about old skool hip-hop, make some noise". His cohorts "Reverend" Run and DMC followed behind, DMC holding his trainers aloft for their famous homage to their sponsors, "My Adidas".

This is an interactive concert with and every movement of the crowd directed by the rappers. "Whenever I say Jam Master, you shout Jay," shouts DMC. "When I shout "What you gonna do? You shout "Ooooo" and point your finger at Jam Master Jay." After a while it got a little complex and I began to feel like a toddler learning the art of conversation.

Run DMC are obviously in a quandary over the Nevins single. As DJ Run inquires "how many knew DMC before Jason Nevins?" it is clear that the track fails to meet their exacting, old-skool standards and a significant proportion of the crowd stare ashamedly at their feet. But they are soon let off the hook as, to roars of delight, they launch into their own version of the single from 1983. Clearly not averse to their 1986 collaboration with Aerosmith they also do show-stopping performances of "Walk This Way" after which DMC pulls off his Adidas T-shirt, signs it and tosses it into the crowd.

For all their hip-hop hyperbole, Run DMC pull off a suitably riotous performance without an inkling of the menace or politicised egotism of their cliche-ridden imitators, and prove that even when approaching middle- age, hip-hop is still a force to be reckoned with.

Fiona Sturges

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