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Jurassic 5 @ Vicar Street


Excitement’s been building for this, the latter of two sell-out shows in Dublin’s Vicar Street as part of Jurassic 5’s reunion tour, ever since the six original members appeared onstage for the first time since 2006 at Coachella last year, featuring DJ Cut Chemist’s return to the fold after he left the group for the old chestnut of ‘musical differences’ in the months prior to the recording of their final album – the least true representation of the qualities that gave J5 their reputation in the first place – Feedback.

As Cut Chemist and his foil, Nu-Mark, enter the eyeline, what’s immediately noticeable is the humility of the. Donned with little flash other than a ‘roided up J5-emblazoned turntable taking centre stage, it’s fairly safe to say that this is a celebration of hip-hop rather than an unnecessarily self-indulgent payday; but then, Jurassic 5 have never been about that. Within minutes, the masses stream into the iconic venue while simultaneously, a fruity aroma peppers the nostril as the four MCs are reintroduced to us with a medley of crowd-friendly cuts like the epidemically-infectious ‘I Am Somebody’ and Bob Marley flute-sampling early single ‘Jayou’, accompanied by a fierce amount of skankin’ on Akil’s part. They’re a veritable assortment of personalities and with the spotlight shared and spread evenly, breathing space is given for each member’s disposition to really translate to their performance, building a powerful rapport for the love-in that ensues, genuinely happy to be back, putting any doubts about the seldom-addressed personal conflicts behind their 2007 breakup to rest.

As they tear through the set, barring a small scattering of jarring transitions between songs – a make-or-break part of any turntable-based hip-hop show – their four voices miss nary a syllable, combining effortlessly in their old school trademark yes y’allin’; the enthusiasm and sincerity with which they perform tonight belies their true age, but never their experience, while an impressive rendition of ‘Improvise’ is followed by the turntablists’ time to shine as Cut Chemist utilises the jumbo-decks and a low-slung – Jimmy Page style – record player in order to jam with Nu-Mark, who emerges from his booth to offer a contemporary take on Mick Fleetwood’s full-body drum suit, with slabs of vinyl replacing the ‘80s drum pads. It’s one of many tangents which stay on the tactful side of gimmickry, serving to punctuate the music rather than distract from it. There’s a sense of renewed dynamism with J5 as they go into the requests portion of the show without artistic prejudice or pretence, performing ‘Radio’ – a diamond in the (relatively speaking) rough of the aforementioned Feedback – and their 1995 debut single, the immensely underrated ‘Unified Rebelution’.

Their voices have held up well for a group of men who are – at this point –about twenty years into their career, and the enthusiasm and sincerity with which they perform tonight belies their true age, but never their experience.  As expected, some of the best-known tracks like ‘Quality Control’ and stone cold classic slice of LA subcultural commentary ‘Concrete Schoolyard’ are given rapturous responses. As the night draws near a close, ‘A Day At The Races’ serves as a vehicle to showcase to the intricacies of Chali 2na’s deeply percussive baritone, as well as the quasi-liquidity of the flow of himself, Marc 7even and Zaakir.

A few reflective moments come towards the end of the night by way of 2002 tour de force Power In Numbers, like the platonically-themed ‘Thin Line’ – compare that to Robin Thicke’s similarly titled hit – and the themes of show-closer ‘What’s Golden’; it’s reassuring that in a world where most of mainstream hip-hop makes most of its money through a concoction of declarations of misogyny, ego and/or genital magnitude, a group who state quite literally that ballin’ and shot callin’ are strictly off the menu in their best-known lyrics can fill venues and satisfy fans solely based on their uplifting, sun-kissed timelessness. Stevie Lennox.

is Gig Guide Editor & guitarist/vocalist with Junk Drawer, PigsAsPeople & Sister Ghost. Appreciator of Neil Young, vinyl, black coffee, Richard Linklater, light & shade.