As a four piece in their heyday, the Pharcyde produced some of the most chilled and happy hip hop around, and despite losing two members, the reproduction of that music in 2006 still sounds as fresh and as fun as it ever has.
Flanked by a keyboard player, a drummer called Big Sexy and a happy-go-lucky DJ, Booty Brown and Imani Wilcox took to the stage and kicked off immediately with the dancing and smiling that wouldn’t end until every last fan had left the venue smiling and dancing themselves. Even without Tre and Fatlip, their classic tracks brought people ramming closer, dancing and chanting along as Imani showed brilliant stage presence.
Booty Brown’s nasal delivery, most recently heard on the last Gorillaz single, swept through the classic tracks that every person in the crowd sang along to, like the brilliant Ya Mama and the laid back Running Away, vibing alongside the scratching of the DJ and the percussive accompaniment of the ever delighted Big Sexy. A new track was knocked out and this had everyone swaying along, enjoying the new notes of the group.
The show didn’t even lose its impetus during the commemoration of the recently passed J Dilla, who, Imani explained, made the music that helped shape the Pharcyde’s way of thinking. But instead of a minute’s silence for the great producer, a medley of his work was played and Imani, trying hard not to be tearful, danced as if his life depended on it, whilst Booty chilled in the corner, raising his hand up at the changing of each track.
The crowd interaction was on point all the way through the show, not least in the final track before the encore, Passing Me By, which was screamed back at full force by the sell out crowd, and the track that followed their return, Oh Shit. The vocals grew louder and louder, especially after Booty said that he’d told the Icelandic crowd how hyped London was and he didn’t want us to make him look stupid.
As they left the stage, amidst one of the loudest and prolonged applauses I’ve ever heard, it was clear that everyone in the audience was thinking exactly that. Oh Shit! They’d just witnessed a legacy that was still evolving and showing no signs of letting up.