Sequels in rock and roll are generally about as successful as they are in movies -- which is to say, not very.
But Big Audio Dynamite II, the recently reconfigured version of Mick Jones' rock and hip-hop band, which played Hammerjacks over the weekend, is one of the happy exceptions. Indeed, if Saturday's show is any indication, this version of the band may actually be better than the original.
It wasn't an especially dramatic difference. There were as many musicians onstage Saturday as there were when the group last played Hammerjacks, and B.A.D.'s basic approach, which tops eclectic dance grooves with layers of rock guitar and sampled sound-bites, hadn't changed a bit.
Yet the music itself was markedly more energetic. "The Battle of All Saints Road," for instance, seemed transformed; what had once been a low-key collision between reggae and rockabilly was something entirely new, boasting a funky, hip-hop pulse and leaving plenty of room for Jones and his B.A.D.-mates to stretch out.
How much of this is in reaction to the success of groups like EMF and Jesus Jones -- acts that work off a formula the original B.A.D. introduced a half-dozen years ago -- is hard to say, but it obviously works to the band's advantage. Back-catalog selections like "Hollywood Boulevard" and "Medicine Show" were completely revitalized by this new approach, and even material from B.A.D. II's new album, "The Globe," seemed livelier in concert than on record.
No wonder, then, that the crowd responded with enthusiasm, dancing with an abandon that belied the close quarters. Some even indulged in spurts of stage diving and crowd-surfing -- that is, leaping from the stage onto the top of the crowd, and being passed, hand-to-hand, over their heads -- despite Jones' requests that they not. (Personal to the divers: It's the '90s. Get a clue).
That intensely kinetic reaction came in sharp contrast to the half-hearted undulations sparked by openers the Farm, whose take on Manchester-style dance rock relies far more on studio magic than concert-hall chemistry.