Black Sheep @ Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

Whose the Black Sheep/What’s the Black Sheep?

BILLED as the Black Sheep in reality this was only one half of the group whose 1991 classic LP ‘A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ secured their place in hip hop’s hall of fame.

Dres of the Black Sheep

Dres of the Black Sheep

Though it was no great surprise only Dres was present, just in case he cleared up any confusion stating he has been working for the past two years without his original partner Mr Lawnge.

Not that it mattered as surprisingly Dres performed little of that classic album that means so much to hip hop heads over the age of 30, the demographic which made up most of the Thursday, June 11 crowd – as confirmed by Dres separately asking those over 30 and under 30 to make some noise.

Dres was quickly into ‘Flavor Of The Month’, followed by the explanation of the classic partnership’s current status and a new song. ‘Similak Child’ soon followed but Dres only performed a verse of ‘Strobelite Honey’ and he closed his 50 minute set with ‘The Choice Is Yours’.

While I had come expecting to hear more of that classic material the disappointment wasn’t at Dres’ set list but the small number that turned out for an act that along with De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers helped form the Native Tongues collective.

I had expected Clwb to be close to, if not, sold out but on arrival found myself walking into the downstairs bar rather than the larger upstairs room. Dres who had to perform from the dancefloor rather than a stage as he would have upstairs, was making himself comfortable however.

“It’s a nice, intimate setting,” he said approvingly: “I feel I could be sat on a couch in someone’s living room.”

Of Dres’ other material, the most interesting and promising was his Evitan project, a collaboration with original Tribe Called Quest member Jarobi, advancing the Native Tongues sound a quarter of a century on.

Something ain't right, it's the strobelite. DJ Strike

Something ain’t right, it’s the strobelite. DJ Strike

Promoters Starving Artists and Hontza Events deserve credit for bringing (half) of one of hip hop’s game changing acts to Cardiff and showcasing local talent too. Dead Residents again got to display their no holding back attitude in the support slot, having warmed up for the Jungle Brothers last September.

My only criticism is the promoters’ insistence on only selling tickets online, I’d rather buy in person than risk some computer whiz kid obtaining my credit card details to rack up online gambling debts every time I go to a show.

But I doubt the method of ticket sales was the reason for the poor turnout, and as I walked home through the city centre I was struck by how quiet it was for a Thursday night, once a start to some people’s weekend.

I guess young people today are too concerned about losing their temporary jobs to risk phoning in work on a Friday morning with a hangover in case they should find themselves joining the increasing number who seem to be sleeping in Cardiff city centre doorways.

The economy, like the early 90s when Black Sheep first appeared, seems to offer less than usual to the young and the low paid Butt in the Meantime if you are at a poorly attended show hope the headliner follows Dres’ approach. Perhaps sensing a potentially subdued audience he reassured the room: “It’s about me having a good time, and you joining in.”


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