Music Reviews



Central Park Summerstage, New York
Wednesday, Aug. 8

Beastie Boys managed to raise the temperature of an already sweltering Central Park on Wednesday night, where they delivered a show that was rapturously received by their hometown fans. Even the headliners seemed thrilled to be at the open-air venue: "We're like Diana Ross, Elton John and Paul Simon all in one," Mike D joked.

The show, part of a three-night stand in the city that includes an all-instrumental show Friday night at the Hammerstein Ballroom, was to promote their new album "The Mix-Up." Generous selections from the disc were performed at the show, with the funky and laid-back, if not particularly memorable, instrumentals providing relaxing breaks between the hard-edged rock/rap numbers.

The Boys, who are now in fact middle-aged men, made no concessions to the heat, performing in suits and ties that had them drenched in sweat from the very first number.

Not that it affected their energy level. The tight 105-minute concert, which needed to be wrapped up on time because of a park curfew, was a typically raucous Beasties hip-hop party that had the crowd both bouncing wildly and singing along.

Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D may have some gray in their hair, but they have lost none of their hipster swagger. Playing such hits as "Brass Monkey," "No Sleep Till Brooklyn," "Remote Control," "Tough Guy" and "Pass the Mic," they performed with a vocal intensity that made the breaks for the less frenetic "Mix-Up" numbers seem well deserved. The familiar songs were often invigorated by fresh arrangements, and there were plenty of rarities performed to keep things interesting.

Making invaluable contributions were DJ Mixmaster Mike, who was given the opportunity for a lengthy solo number, and multi-instrumentalists Mark Nishita and Alfredo Ortiz.

Much of the fun of a Beastie Boys concert comes from the playfully ironic banter among the three members, and they didn't disappoint. As usual, they engaged in enough verbal comic shtick to qualify as much as a stand-up as hip-hop act.

Saving their ferocious rocker "Sabotage" for the final encore, they sent their fans off into the park in a state of satisfied exhaustion.