WORCESTER - Leave it to the Beastie Boys to open their show last night with the real beasts.
Of course, when you been in the fickle here-today, gone-today world of hip-hop as long as this New York trio has, you can do just about anything you want - even inviting a Las Vegas dog act to kick off their show at the Worcester Centrum Centre.
And this throwback to ``The Ed Sullivan Show,'' wasn't the boys' only old-school nod. After their longtime DJ Mixmaster Mike gave a brief clinic on turntablism, running the gamut from Jimi Hendrix to A Tribe Called Quest, the boys hit the stage in vintage-style Adidas track suits, performing their current single, "Triple Trouble.''
"Ad-Rock'' Horovitz, Mike ``Mike D'' Diamond, and Adam "MCA'' Yauch - don't have anything to prove, still they bounced around the spare stage like puppies on speed. If you can't respect their longevity - they released their first album, "Licensed to Ill'' in 1986 before some in the audience were born - there's no denying the potency of such classic songs as "Root Down'' and "Sure Shot.'' Once hooligans, they're now upstanding citizens far more likely to sing about world events than doing nasty things with a wWiffle ball bat. Still, even with a brief and funny clip of comedian Will Ferrell as an inept President Bush, they kept the politics to a minimum.
They even managed to neutralize (momentarily) an unprintable chant about a certain New York baseball team, with their song, "An Open Letter to NYC,'' which celebrates their hometown perseverance.
They performed other songs from the current album, "To the Five Boroughs,'' such as "Right Right Now Now,'' and ``We Got The,'' but the real crowd - pleasers came from their deep catalog of hits. Let's face it - no one would have believed that the guys who once sang "Fight for Your Right'' could ever be anything more than a novelty let alone become one of the most respected rap groups in hip-hop history.
And they've lasted because songs such as ``Shake Your Rump,'' ``Skills to Pay the Bills,'' and "Body Movin' '' can still move the room, getting everyone bouncin' and boppin'. They also reminded the audience that they're surprisingly capable musicians.
Changing from the track suits into powder-blue prom tuxedoes, MCA played bass, as Ad-Rock strapped on a guitar, and Mike D pounded out the rhythms behind his drum kit for several songs, including "Something's Got to Give.'' At least on this night, the Beastie Boys proved that, even as they near their 40s, they still got a lot to give.
Wedged between the dogs and the boys was Talib Kweli, who kept his set lively with his solo hits such as "Get By'' and "I Try,'' as well as a funky lesson, featuring such songs as Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough,'' and Funkadelics' "(Not Just) Knee Deep.''
With Talib Kweli
At: Worcester Centrum Centre, last night