"NOTHING against the Prodigy. I like the Prodigy, I just think a song called 'Smack My Bitch Up' isn't cool." This outburst, by Ad Rock, is a cue for a large minority of the Reading crowd to start booing. "You might think that's hypocritical," says the orange boiler-suited speck, weakly. Well, now you come to mention it...
This is, of course, a band that once toured with caged go-go dancers. A band with a member who once announced, "We're not misogynistic. I like any girls, so long as they've got big tits". But this pot shot at the Prodigy, who rocked Reading only minutes earlier, is soon forgotten. The Beasties' current deck-wizard, Mixmaster Mike, slaps another record on and the three perennial teenagers launch into a spot of synchronised boiler-suit action. Live, you might expect the Beasties' shouty brand of hip hop to fall flat, but from the first song 'The Move' they're a model of polished efficiency. The trio bounce around like hyperactive two-year-olds, not the greying thirtysomethings they clearly are. Still, you can't help wondering why the unflattering glare of the video screens seems to be almost permanently trained on Mixmaster Mike even if his deck skills are the best thing about this gig, particularly on the 'Three MCs And One DJ' sections of the show. A blistering 'Super Disco Breakin' gives way to their latest b-boy anthem, 'Body Movin', complete with breaking footage and mad burping noises from the magic turntables of Mixmaster Mike. But sadly, for every bit of old skool rap genius, there's a flatulent funk work-out round the corner.
Double Bass Player, Keyboard Money Mark and Fat Bongo Bloke (who also does a nifty line in weird honking noises) are all wheeled out for at least two plodding instrumentals, which have Reading's floating voters scurrying to the burger stands. But the mood doesn't sag for long, and soon the whining rappers strap on guitars and thrash through another 'Ill Communication' classic. By encore-time the stage glows red for 'Intergalactic' and the Beasties administer another short, sharp electro-shock. Yes, they look ridiculous. Yes, they should have left the instruments at home. And yes, the the vocoder track that Buddhist Adam Yauch dedicates to Tibet, is best forgotten. But the oldest teenagers in the world proved one thing beyond doubt. Three MCs and one DJ can still rock a party like no one else.
Beastie Boys continue