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Concert review: Pete Rock & CL Smooth at Vinyl (June 19)

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Rap duo Pete Rock & CL Smooth share the stage at Vinyl June 19.
Adam Shane
Mike Pizzo

Three and a half stars

PETE ROCK & C.L. SMOOTH June 19, Vinyl.

My Instagram photo of legendary rap duo Pete Rock & CL Smooth sharing a stage in Las Vegas was met with comments like “Whaaaaaaaat?!?!” (@djfive) and “How did I not know about this!?!?” (@draygardner) The pair split back in 1995 after releasing a handful of the greatest hip-hop records of all time, and they were at Vinyl Sunday night, celebrating the 25th anniversary of debut EP All Souled Out.

The show conflicted with both Electric Daisy Carnival and Father’s Day, leaving Pete and CL to rock an intimate yet passionate group of lifetime backpackers, amped to see them perform together in the flesh. Proof: A pack of 40-plus-year-old dads doing the East Coast Stomp and screaming the hook to the duo’s softest cut, “Lots of Lovin’” as if it was a level 11 DMX banger.

Both members are pushing 50 but appear youthful and svelte, despite hoarse voices indicative of four shows in the previous four nights. Just like on their albums, the set was peppered with brief interludes of classic breaks and pocket-sized bits of flavor, provided by Rock on the wheels of steel.

They ran through a crate of classic cuts, naturally pulling out hits like “I Got a Love” and “Straighten It Out,” while surprising the crowd with the Run-D.M.C. collab “Down With the King.” Though debut single “The Creator” was notably absent, Pete and CL tugged on the audience’s heartstrings by closing with one of the most beloved hip-hop songs ever, “T.R.O.Y. (They Reminisce Over You).” It was an obvious move that everyone saw coming, yet one that achieved the desired effect when those signature horns kicked in.

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