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Concert Reviews:
Boys Are Beastie-ly Good At Two Fillmore Shows
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

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DETROIT -- The Beastie Boys asked fans to "dress to impress" for Tuesday night's (Sept. 25) Gala Event performance at the Fillmore Detroit, but the Brooklyn trio impressed with much more than couture during its two radically different concerts at the theater.

Both, however, found the Beasties -- now in their 40's and a long way from fighting for their right to party -- at a new top of their game. Sporting suits and ties and of their own, they've matured but haven't grown up. At least not all the way.

What was most clear from the pair of nearly two-hour shows was that the Beasties can play as well as rap. Tuesday's Gala Event was certainly proof of that, with the trio spending nearly the entire show on their instruments -- Mike "Mike D" Diamond on drums, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz on guitar, Adam "MCA" Yauch on a particularly dominant bass. Bolstered by DJ Mix Master Mike (ne Schwartz), Detroit-born keyboardist Money Mark (ne Ramos-Nishita) and percussionist Alfredo Ortiz, the Beasties were fluid if not necessarily virtuoistic, emphasizing tone and dynamic over flash as they worked through a 30-song set that ranged from trippy jazz-funk ("B For My Name," "14th St. Break," "Electric Worm") from the group's latest album, "The Mix-Up," instrumentals from previous albums ("Sabrosa," "LIve at PJ's"), punk rock ("Heart Attack Man," "Tough Guy," "Time For Living," "Egg Raid on Mojo") and instrumentalized adaptations of rap material such as "Sure Shot," "Jimmy James" and "Do It."

The freshness of the presentation, for both band and fans, gave a slight edge to Tuesday's show -- and may be the reason that many of the highlights of Monday's (Sept. 24) more "typical" Beasties show also came when the crew strapped on their instruments for songs they reprised the following night. The two concerts did share 15 songs; "Root Down," meanwhile, was played in its familiar 1994 rap version on Monday, while the Beasties covered its inspiration, jazz organist Jimmy Smith's "Root Down (and Get It)," on Tuesday.

Monday's show should not be considered a weak sister, however, and was certainly tailored to the Beasties' mass following with a larger selection of the group's hits. Flanked by two large video screens, with a set of 14 light and video panels above them, the Beasties spent about two-thirds of that concert rhyming and working the stage with an amiable and loose in-your-face energy that was missing when the group last visited Detroit for a 2004 show at Cobo Arena. And while signs warning against moshing and crowd surfing greeted the sold-out audience (which included pop singer/actress Mandy Moore) on the Fillmore doors, the admonitions were forgotten during favorites such as "Pass the Mic," "Three Mc's and One DJ," "No Sleep Til Brooklyn" and "Intergalactic."

All told, any Beasties fan should have walked away satisfied from either, or both, of the Fillmore shows. And the greater emphasis on musicianship certainly stoked plenty of excitement about where the group will take things in the future.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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