History Made: Run-D.M.C, The Powerstation

By Oscar Kightley

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Oscar Kightley witnessed Run-D.M.C. play The Powerstation in Auckland on 18 November 1988.

Run-D.M.C live at the Powerstation in November 1988. Photo / Supplied
Run-D.M.C live at the Powerstation in November 1988. Photo / Supplied

At the time I was 19 and working as a junior reporter at The Auckland Star. This was back in the days when there were all these stations that used to play ads on TV that said ridiculous shit like "no rap, no crap" - bFM was the only station that was flying the flag for hip hop. That was the music we'd come up on, so it was weird to see that kind of stuff. It was kind of like a statement on what the country was like at the time.

Run-D.M.C. came here in their prime and at a time when no other hip hop artists were coming to New Zealand. I was walking down Queen St before the show and I saw Jam Master Jay walking down the street. No one else around me knew who he was, but I was like, 'F**k - that's Jam Master Jay!' He caught my eye and I tentatively threw up a peace sign in greeting, 'cause that was what we did back then, and he did it back. I will never forget that moment.

Being an impressionable young man, it was amazing to see Jam Master Jay onstage scratching - he was my favourite. And, the thing is, Run-D.M.C didn't just stand there and rap - they had a show and they rocked it.

Back at that time, hip hop was in its infancy in New Zealand, and the culture wasn't the same after that show. We had three kings of hip hop on that stage in Mt Eden, rocking it and getting the crowd involved. Back then, no one did that so it was pretty cool.

It wasn't at all what you'd expect a hip hop gig today to be, which would be a lot of baseball caps and brown people. It was packed and sweaty, and I remember being upstairs and looking down at this sea of young New Zealanders behaving like I'd never seen young New Zealanders behave at a concert, with their hands in the air, throwing them like they just didn't care.

It really wasn't about where you were from, it was where you were at, and that night everybody felt like they were at the same place.

What: Run-D.M.C.
Where: The Powerstation, Auckland
When: Friday 18 November 1988

*Oscar Kightley stars in Sione's Wedding 2: Unfinished Business, in cinemas 19 January.

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