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First Night: Black Eyed Peas

They're so 3008, those Black Eyed Peas. I mean, look at them in their robotic outfits, riding around the O2 on some sort of wire-operated, space-like motorcycle; who do they think they are, eh? And when did hip hop become all about science fiction?

Whatever the answers, it's clear that "the most corporate band in America" (we're talking BlackBerry, BMW, Bacardi -- the list goes on) have certainly put the extra cash to good use.

In fact, what Fergie, will.i.am, Taboo, and apl.de.ap have done is created a whole new live experience for the otherwise easily entertained ringtone generation to truly enjoy and respect.

Visually stunning, and -- get this -- featuring a live line-up of musicians, all that's missing from the opening night of The E.N.D. European tour is a James Cameron-esque storyline; as in, something to help explain all those green lasers and images of space. Yep, it really is that fun, folks. Fun, and very, very, funky.



shiniest

Kicking off with an intro that suggests the American four-piece arrived in Dublin via the luminescent walls of another dimension, the Peas (all dressed in the shiniest of velvet and, erm, chrome) leap into business with the always reliable Let's Get It Started.

It's the perfect opener and one which easily sets the tone for the next half an hour or so, during which a crowd of almost 14,000 are treated to the most spectacular stage setting this side of Bono's Claw.

Seriously, the otherworldly visuals (not to mention the various other gizmos and gadgets involved) really are that good. It helps that the accompanying DJ, dancers (dressed up as stereo speakers, might I add) and band, are on top form, as this most impressively tight vocal group deliver a collection of hits from their last three albums.



freestyle

Sure, it may be five years since they last entertained on these shores, but they more then make up for it, especially 35-year-old will.i.am, whose freestyle rap involving Thin Lizzy, U2 and a stroll down Grafton Street, is nothing short of riveting.

And then there's Fergie ... ah yes, Fergie. A terrifyingly sexy and never-less-than commanding performer, the powerful singer balances out the sometimes inaudible rhyming of her band mates with some truly incredible and often soothing vocal work. Cheryl Cole, take note -- next time you support a band like this, at least ask the girl for a few tips before hand, yeah? Cheers.

However, while this futuristic and thoroughly engaging performance does have its faults (we could have done without the lengthy DJ interlude, Will -- and don't get me started on how many times you said Dublin) it is still, without a doubt, a cleverly constructed and meticulously planned example of what can happen when a hip-hop act remembers the importance of authentic live entertainment. A touching and particularly uplifting rendition of Where Is The Love? is enough evidence of that.

Fair enough, there's a bit of Auto-Tune involved, but who cares? When you've got songs like the unbelievably catchy Boom Boom Pow and I Gotta Feeling, a little vocal assistance for the lads can be excused. Especially when it's a show as good as this.


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