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Monday, 28 August 2017

FOR THE RECORD: WILL SMITH & DJ JAZZY JEFF Live @ Blackpool Livewire Festival


Getting Jazzy Wit It.

Blackpool? BLACKPOOL?! Yep, underneath the Blackpool Tower (L'Eiffel has got nothing on this!) on a summertime's night in the "Las Vegas" of the United Kingdom of all places, movie megastar Will Smith and his Fresh Prince rapping partner DJ Jazzy Jeff reunited on stage after seven years and one night in Croatia (in the shortest...and strangest world tour), to thousands of promenade shutting down fans whose eyes were peeled with as much awe as disbelief. Can the worlds most recognisable face of entertainment that has the ears to play President Barack Obama really forgo London, Manchester and even the Beatles home of Liverpool (let alone the rest of the whole world) for a town more known for it's sticks of rock and rollercoasters than fans screaming after rock stars? Well...yes he can! Just days after Michael' men, The Jacksons took to the same stage of ultimate musical and cultural icons just across the road from pound arcades and shops, this rhyming and scratching brotherhood finished one hell of a Bank Holiday weekend with a special show that was everything and anything but a cash grab for the multi-million 'Men In Black', 'Independence Day' and 'Suicide Squad' Deadshot actor and one of the greatest deejay's of all-time in hip-hop and music history. "You have no idea how amped I am" Big Willie, Will Smith said taking the stage after the outstanding opening of his bombastic classic 'Boom! Shake The Room'. Pyrotechnically puncuated by fireballs and fireworks that neon illuminated the night like the Blackpool lights and tower front at Christmas or the name of Smith's next movie coming this December. With the smell of firecrackers in the air and the man himself live in the "Fresh" the amazing atmosphere was set. But even without that the excitement would have still been as palpable from the met awe-inspiring anticipation of the powerhouse energy enthuser whose catchphrases include "WOO" and an even louder "HA HAAA"! Were he or we about to let this once in a lifetime night in a small town by the seaside go to waste? "Oh HELL nah"!

Code Red! This was it! After the 'Simon Says' call and response of epic, ultimate hypeman Fatman Scoop got the crowd going like it's "how the hell is THIS happening HERE" feeling didn't even need to. Or his 'Be Faithful' Crooklyn Clan remix with Notorious B.I.G. wife and R&B queen Faith Evans did in every club since the early 2000's. The man who supported Scoop on the 'Put Your Hands Up' remix like Faith went from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air to literally the most famous person you'll ever see live now the late, great Jacksons M.J. (not to mention the freshest Prince of them all) is no longer with us for the biggest selling yet most underrated discography you've ever heard or known word for word. Remember "first rap Grammy! Let's talk about the only reason your a## went to Miami". Sure when it comes to Will, you know his way. He is legend and you know the movies from 'Hitch' and 'The Pursuit Of Happyness', to 'Collateral Beauty' and 'Wild Wild West'. Just like you know Jeff, whether you're a hip-hop purist or a famous face fan who knows Jazzy as the dude that always get thrown out of the late, great James Avery Uncle Phil's Bel-Air mansion everytime he made a "you're uncle's so fat" joke or wore that gold and black and white polka dot shirt. But these two are more than one of the 80's 'Cosby Show' and 'Cheers' rivalling most successful sitcoms of all-time 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' that their Magic and Kareem, bars and decks, one-two punch dynamic duo actually chicken before egg birthed. When it comes to true jewel, genuine hip-hop history and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Will Smith and Jeff Townes are first and foremost like Charlie Mack out of the limo. As iconic and legendary in rap circles and ciphers as fellow 80's pionners Run-DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and N.W.A. Don't let the nice, clean raps confuse you. Or the family movies like LL Cool J or Ice Cube guy. Will Smith, you know he's fresh. But the kid who thought he could beat Mike Tyson has skills to. Capital Z.

Get Jiggy with it all you like, but the legendary legacy of Fresh and Jeff is not just about "Here come the Men In Black" as you nod your head. Because for every trademark Will, heartfelt and hilariously introduced stool-sitting  'Just The Two Of Us' (with his first born sitting in V.I.P. with what looked like either Blackpool's mayor or an old white dude who loves Slick Rick jewellery) and welcome to 'Miami' (as the man who played the late, great 'Ali' said and show proved he was the greatest) there was a 'I Wanna Rock' and 'Brand New Funk'. As we were tour taken with our guide through the 30 odd years and back catalogues from 'Big Willie Style' to 'He's The D.J. I'm The Rapper' and 'Rock The House' to 'Willeniuum' in Blackpool's homebase. Just how actually legendary are these big names? Well if you didn't know that these 'Girls Aint Nothing Trouble' and 'Parent's Just Don't Understand' hitmakers won the first rap Grammy when musics Oscars wouldn't even televise the category. And that the cultural bringing together ground and barrier breakers were even sued by the claws of Freddy Kruger in a real waking horror for their Halloween hit 'Nightmare On My Street' then now you do, as one of the greatest and most fun storytellers told you. As he rocked and rolled, just cruising through the hits at a relentless pace, not looking as middle aged as this 50 plus all Hollywood action hero actually is. With his wheels of steel partner Jazzy Jeff on the ones and twos, perfecting the most impossible crowd fuse igniting scratches and transforms on vivid vinyl like the return of the magnificent he really is. And before you wonder like sampling 'I Wish' by Stevie, of course they did the ultimate greatest hit of the season for this festival in 'Summertime', just like a spark of nostalgia. As there it was a groove slightly transformed like their encore mash-up of the still relevant post-Willeniuum hit 'Switch' and the alternating, cult recited legendary 'Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' theme. But as school was out like a sort of a buzz the nights called for "drums please", as the world premiere of a new empowering song came out to a 808 roll. And the new single material, bright shining 'Get Lit' was exactly that for the new, next gen, Netflix smartphone littered crowd this 80's hit making baby still related to like Banks residents this Bank Holiday. Even with the likes of 'Ring My Bell', 'Lovely Daze', 'Will 2K', or Alfonso Ribeiro doing "The Carlton" to 'It's Not Unusual' by Tom Jones on a fridge carton, this glee grinning great still milked the gig in concert with D.J. J.J spilling the crates for all it was worth before the night gave way to glass bottles on the sidewalk. And after the Times Square, gunpowder Fawkes explosive fireworks finale fans were left rubbing their eyes like lamps in the same shock and disbelief awe, as the man whose about to play the genie in Disney's live-action 'Aladdin' remake, live and in living colour strolled off stage as casually as he came. Leaving everyone in attendance with their one wish his command in something we'll never take for granted. And whether on your way back you caught a cab that was rare or yelled "I'm home, smell you later", that was story of how Blackpool became the home of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. TIM DAVID HARVEY.