Review: Salt N Pepa in Canberra

P1014035.jpg - Picasa Photo Viewer 14112013 11657 PMSalt N Pepa played their hip-hop hits in the Australian capital,’s Farz Edraki was there to see it: 

“It’s a nice place, Canberra, but I wouldn’t like to live here. It’s not the kind of place that stimulates you,” Clive Palmer sniffed at reporters upon arriving in Canberra for the first session of parliament this week. I have three things to say to you, Clive: Salt. N. Pepa.

While I can’t confirm the newly-inducted MP actually listens to music (rumour has it he falls asleep to the sound of money exchanging hands looped on tape*) — let’s just have a little moment on Clive’s behalf to appreciate that Salt N Pepa were in Canberra this month. The all-girl rap duo dropped by the territory on their tour of Australia in November. It’s only been two years since Cheryl “Salt” James and Sandra “Pepa” Denton last came to Canberra for the Foreshore Music Festival.

P1013959.jpg - Picasa Photo Viewer 14112013 103131 AMAfter over 25 years of performing, the ladies still have sass. Plenty of sass. They sang some of their better-known hits (“Whatta Man”; “Push It”; “Shoop”) to a packed, exuberant crowd at the Canberra Theatre Centre.  While the venue is technically seated, there were more than a few S&P fans chomping at the bit to get closer to their idols near the stage (including yours truly). Salt, Pepa, their dancers and DJ (“Dee Whiz”) obliged: calling out, high-fiving and winking at the audience.  At one point, Salt cried: “who wants to come on stage?” which precipitated a bizarre sequences of events: a woman, overcome with hysterical excitement, leaped on stage and took the microphone from Salt’s hand; security guards looked on with stunned amusement; a pack of women soon followed suit, crumping and jiving to the music.  Without indulging in hyperbole, dancing on stage with S&P was one of the greatest — no, the greatest — moment of my life. Nothing will surpass it, not even winning the raffle at Turner Bowls or, say, giving birth to a child.

My only regret is that I’ve never had the chance to see the female rappers in their heyday. With their constant breaks for water and towels, it’s obvious they’re not at their peak. Their vocals were still impressive, as was their ability to rile up an audience. It was clear they still have many die-hard fans. “Sometimes I get people coming up to me saying, ‘thank you for being the soundtrack to my life,’” Salt grinned. I daresay Clive wouldn’t have minded “Whatta Man” dedicated to him (although “It’s None of Your Business” might be more accurate).

*I use “rumour” in the fictional, Alan Jones-type category, here.

Salt N Pepa have one show left in their Australian tour, so if you’re in Melbourne, it’s not too late to catch them. For more about the show see here for ticket details.

Words by Farz Edraki, images by Tom Stayner .