By Jake Ebdale
Date / Venue: Wednesday May 11th, 2016 - The Powerstation, Auckland
After an energetic set at Soulfest 2014, Common returned to an Auckland stage last night, seemingly just as energetic and full of consciousness. Having witnessed Talib Kweli prior, with his similar brand of hip hop (with pickings from the immortal Black Star album, including ‘Definition’, which featured Yasiin Bey, previously Mos ‘Oh good, he showed up’ Def), Common’s stuff was surprisingly stale.
The amazing stuff – ‘The Corner’, ‘Thelonious’, ‘Go!’ and a mash up of the Dilla-produced classics ‘The Light’ and ‘So Far to Go’ – was just that – amazing. But the small spoken-word segues into songs, or the time Common was pretty much doing interpretive dance, were unwelcome breaks in momentum. One of the biggest pops came from a new rap, ‘Black America Again’, with references to Star Wars and Trump, apparently on a new album entitled ‘Little Chicago Boy’.
But the routines, while good-natured and fun, were tiresome – the ‘freestyle’ that shoehorned in references to Piha beach and Queen Street was largely the same from two years ago, plus picking a woman out of the crowd to wipe his sweaty bald head is done at every show.
I knew ‘Come Close’ was coming for about 10 minutes. In all honesty, I could’ve done with more songs, more spontaneity than a faux-freestyle rap about some girl with an Aaliyah hat.
Though I’m a huge fan of classic Common, everything from his debut in 1992 to Nobody’s Smiling, it might be the time to think up a new act.