buttonThe Roots @ Melon-AX, Seoul (21st Jan. '09)

Nothing Short Of Legendary

The Roots

      Tonight marked The Roots' first and likely last concert in South Korea. The long-running Philadelphia hip hop act have spent much of their acclaimed career gigging around the globe behind each of their eight brilliant studio efforts, earning them a well-deserved spot on Rolling Stone magazine's list of best live acts in the world a few years back.

      But as the time-tested saying goes, "all good things must come to an end," and after thousands of shows, late last year the group announced that they were retiring from the road. They'll still be performing, but the majority of their playing will be on an American late night television talk show where they'll be the in-house band starting in March.

      After a short video showing The Roots making their way through the airport and heading into Seoul was screened, the house lights dimmed and the act's newest addition, highly entertaining sousaphone player Tuba Gooding Jr., marched out followed closely by his six band mates. Black Thought picked up his mic and stated matter-of-factly, "People in the place, just to let you know you're about to meet the best." Mere seconds into tightly-woven opener "Thought @ Work" from 2002's Phrenology there was little doubt in the minds of the thousand or so people in attendance that his words were true.

      With things heating up in Melon-AX members began peeling off layers of clothing while playing "Here I Come." The vibe on stage was really loose and fun with percussionist F. Knuckles and Gooding Jr. jumping around together, but the sound was bang on as the band tore through each well-played number with precision and style.

      The title cut from 2006's Game Theory came off spectacularly, its intro drawn out and stripped down to just keys and percussion. Black Thought crooned the song's Sly & the Family Stone sample, "This is a game. I'm your specimen," a cappella before things exploded with a powerful wave of funk that had the whole room grooving and pumping their fists. Top-notch versions of fan favourites "Star," "Proceed," and "Step Into The Realm" did little to curb the audience's enthusiasm as the party atmosphere continued.

      The bulk of the band retreated backstage for a short breather while Questlove and Knuckles teamed up for an awesome drum solo. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, Black Thought and keyboardist Kamal re-appeared at the side of the stage sipping drinks to watch what came close to being the highlight of the night.

      I say close because as great as Questlove and Knuckles were, they couldn't compete with the awe-inspiring playing of guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas during the set's extended take of breakthrough single "You Got Me" from 1999's Things Fall Apart. Douglas handled backup vocals for the first part of the number before unleashing a Peter Frampton-esque guitar solo that slowly morphed into "Sweet Child O' Mine." Strobe lights flashed as The Roots briefly became a metal group while rocking out to the Guns N' Roses classic. Douglas and Black Thought then traded off vocals on an abbreviated cover of George Thorogood's "Bad To The Bone." The guitarist stalked the stage while showing off his remarkable versatility and musicianship while leading the group back into "You Got Me" as attendees roared in delight.

      "The Next Movement" closed out the show, but there was no way the riled up audience was letting the band pack it in just yet. Chants of "Roots" echoed through the large venue until the guys re-emerged and kicked into "The Seed 2.0." The already energetic cut was given an extra shot of adrenalin when the act worked in a portion of Curtis Mayfield's "Get On Up." Bassist Owen Biddle, Gooding Jr., and Douglas jumped into the photo pit to play and dance with the bouncing bodies up front. Making their way back onto the stage, Kamal, Knuckles, and Black Thought joined the trio for some fancy Roots two-stepping as the night wound down. Black Thought proclaimed, "We are the legendary Roots crew" and you would have been hard pressed to find a single person who would've disagreed.

      Although the band's new TV gig is an excellent opportunity to showcase their talent, their departure from touring has to make any true lover of live music a little sad. Making the most of their only opportunity to witness hip hop's finest, the people of Seoul definitely enjoyed their time with The Roots.

report by shawn

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buttonMag files : The Roots

buttonNothing Short Of Legendary (09/01/21 @ Melon-AX, Seoul) : review by shawn
buttonThe Untouchables (07/01/05 @ Shibuya O-East) : review by shawn

The official site

The Roots


check 'em? -->MySpace / iTunes

The latest album

The Roots
"Rising Down"

(US import / US import / US import - '12 analog / UK import / 国内盤 / iTunes)
previous works

"Game Theory" (US import / 国内盤 / iTunes)
"Do You Want More?!!!??! " (US import/ 国内盤)
" The Tipping Point " (US import / iTunes)
"Organix" (US import)
"Illadelph Halflife " (US import/ 国内盤 / iTunes)
"The Roots Come Alive" (US import / iTunes)
"Present " (US import)
"Things Fall Apart " (US import / iTunes)
"Home Grown! The Beginner's Guide to Understanding the Roots, Vol. 1" (US import / 国内盤 / iTunes)
"Home Grown! The Beginner's Guide to Understanding the Roots, Vol. 2" (US import / 国内盤 / iTunes)
"Phrenology " (US import / iTunes)

Find your favorites

check the albums?

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buttonNothing Short Of Legendary : The Roots (21st Jan. @ Melon-AX, Seoul)


buttonDay Three - Still More Minty Goodness To Be Had : Grand Mint Festival feat. Orgeltanz, Sun Stroke, Starry-Eyed, Loro and more (17th to 19th Oct. @ Olympic Park, Seoul)
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buttonFuck Being Rock Stars : Bulssazo (24th May. @ Bowie, Seoul)
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buttonGirls Just Want To Have Fun : The Pipettes (9th Aug. @ Harajuku Astro Hall)
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buttonInterview : Everybody Dance Now : The Afet Collective (22nd May.)
buttonThank You For Not Being White : Think About Life (3rd May @ Harajuku Astro Hall)
buttonToo Good To Resist : Bleach with Midori, Electric Eel Shock, Detroit7 (23rd Apr. @ Shimokitazawa Shelter)
buttonHistory Repeating : Flogging Molly (16th Apr. @ Shibuya AX)
buttonThe Self-Proclaimed World's Third Best Punk Band : Converge (7th Apr. @ Shinkiba Studio Coast)
buttonDon't Forget Your Manners : Converge (16th Mar. @ Shimokitazawa Club 251)
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buttonYou Can Always Come Back Home : Deerhoof (20th Jan. @ Shinjuku Loft)
buttonThe Untouchables : The Roots (15th Jan. @ Shibuya O-East)
buttonDream A Little Dream : The Album Leaf (13th Jan. @ Liquidroom Ebisu)


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