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Ad Rock & Mike D reminisced at Beastie Boys Book Tour kickoff (pics, review)

Monday night (10/29) at NYC’s Town Hall, the remaining members of the Beastie Boys, Adam ‘King Ad Rock’ Horovitz and Michael ‘Mike D’ Diamond, along with their DJ Mixmaster Mike, began their six-night, four-city “Beastie Boys Book Live & Direct Tour.” As the title states, it’s a celebration of the just-released expansive and fascinating memoir of this much beloved band. As with the book, this tour is anything but your standard press jaunt.

The evening began tongue firmly in cheek, with Mike and Adam seated at a café table behind a video backdrop of famous Parisian cafe Les Deux Magots. (Once the hangout of writers and artists, such as Hemingway, Sartre, Camus, Joyce, Picasso and Bertolt Brecht, it today lends its name to one of France’s most important literary prizes, The Prix des Deux Magots.) After some playful banter, Mike D exited the stage, leaving Ad Rock, book in hand, to start reading. Again, as this was not your average book tour, it was a bit of a fake-out as he quickly put the book down and started riffing.

In many ways, the evening mirrors Bruce Springsteen’s current Broadway smash, as the Beasties told stories ripped directly from the memoir that detailed the history of the band from its earliest beginnings as snotty NYC punks to the end when they had become one of the biggest bands in the world. Video screens showed chapter titles, pictures and videos throughout the night. There were set and costume changes, and skits, interspersed with Mixmaster Mike playing snippets of Beastie Boys classics. Much like they did in their heyday, Adam and Mike darted around the stage and riffed off each other throughout the show. Sometimes, one member would head back stage, leaving the other to wax solo.

While the show has clearly been rehearsed, complete with teleprompters, it all still felt off the cuff. They told stories and anecdotes about the old days, like how they played the legendary Max’s Kansas City the night before it closed, or how they entered a battle of the bands at the equally famous Studio 54… and lost. Horovitz also talked about returning to their hometown after relocating to LA for few years, and stopped to let everyone know how much NYC means to him, and to thank his parents for having him and raising him in NYC. They also proved to be master impressionists by doing their best impressions of Rick Rubin and other characters who popped up through their history.

There were poignant and reflective moments, including a video montage of their cringeworthy time after the release of Licensed to Ill, when they became the jock frat boy stereotypes they actually were mocking. The video froze on a shot of a young Ad Rock being showered in beer, as Ad Rock himself returned to the stage, and sheepishly looked at the image with a mixture of incredulity and remorse.

Adam also talked about Dave Scilken, his close friend and bandmate in pre Beasties punk band The Young and The Useless (and whose drug overdose death in 1991 inspired the finishing of the Check Your Head LP which was ultimately dedicated to him). And, of course, the closing part of the show was an extended tribute to the talents and genius of their late great bandmate Adam “MCA” Yauch, which was as touching as you can imagine. In fact, you could feel his spirit there in the room the entire night.

The evening ended, some two hours later, where it began, with Mike and Adam (the latter doing a little skit as a waiter) sitting outside Les Deux Magots, and Mixmaster Mike toasting over a bottle of red wine to a night filled with joy, sadness, reflection and humor.

There were two things that struck me the most during the evening. The first was, even after all these years — with age, marriages, and children — Mike and Adam still retain those singular personalities that made them such beloved performers. That’s especially true for Adam, who has lost none of that impish devil quality that made him many fans’ favorite Beastie Boy. The other was that this is a band that truly loves each other and loves being around each other, and it was clear that no amount of time has diminished that at all.

It was also clear that this was a special night for the audience, which included many longtime fans and friends who came to reminisce and pay tribute to the legendary band (including director Noah Baumbach [who cast Adam in his 2014 film While We’re Young], performer Murray Hill, and the ubiquitous Jimmy Fallon).

Check out photos from The Town Hall above.

“Beastie Boys Book Live & Direct” hits Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre tonight (10/30) and there are still a few tickets left. Note: While Monday’s event did not feature any Q & A segments or special guest moderators, they are expected for the rest of the run. If you are going tonight or to any of the other shows, make sure you get there early to view the accompanying exhibit. It’s chock full of Beastie ephemera as well as a Sonos room and a turntable setup featuring tons of vinyl from artists who have influenced the band throughout their career.

words & photos by P Squared

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