Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Gang of Four Reunion is the New Entertainment!

Last night I went to the 'secret' Gang of Four after-show at the Tribeca Grand. The Gang of Four in a tiny, intimate venue, pretty close to the very front (there were just two people between me and the stage, and at most 200 people there total).

First, of course, they had the first of 2 sold out Irving Plaza shows to play. After that they came to this show, hitting the stage at a little after 1:30.

And it was awesome. They were incredibly tight, playing amazing material with passion and a hefty dose of anarchic energy. Andy Gill played stonefaced but theatrically while singer Jon King danced around frantically as if trying to excorcise a demon from his body. Andy's guitar was blistering... the feedback and noise he incorporated into "Not Great Men" was maybe the show's highlight. The song started with him plowing his guitar into his amplifier and jerking it around, pushing it into the amp or the floor or both. Later, he pushed his guitar into the audience so they could hit the strings. Anyone in the center of the first two rows had a good go at it (I was about 6 inches too far to get a hand in). "Anthrax" was stellar because after playing some opening squall, Andy put the guitar down for the rest of the song, singing in duet with Jon while Dave and Hugo rocked the bass and drums propulsively.
"Damaged Goods" was killer for the audience sing along, which was not prompted by the band but started of its own accord (though they encouraged it once it started). Picture Andy at the mic, waiting for the moment to start singing, delaying to let the rhythym section carry on for a bit, when the audience chimes in with "Damaged goods (ah ahh ah ahh) Send them back (ah ahh ah ahh) I can't work I can't achieve Send me back."

The encore started with "To Hell With Poverty," their first single, which they've recently re-recorded for a 2-disc set of Go4 re-recording their old songs, and new artists (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ladytron, The Futureheads, etc) covering/remixing Go4 classics. The Go4's "To Hell With Poverty 2005" is currently available on iTunes; the new album is slated for August 30 release. The final song of the night was a cover of the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane." (Jon: "Now we're gonna play a New York ballad"). There's a live version of this as one of the bonus tracks on Rhino's new reissue of Entertainment!. I have the old reissue with the Yellow EP but without the 4 new bonus tracks (alternate versions of "Guns Before Butter" and "Contract", live recordings of rarely-played Go4 track "Blood Free" and VU cover "Sweet Jane")

Here's the setlist:

What We Want
Not Great Men
Return the Gift
At Home He's a Tourist
Natural's Not In It
Damaged Goods

To Hell with Poverty
Sweet Jane (Velvet Underground cover)

For some great pics of the show see Brooklyn Vegan's post. BV also reports that Andy will be DJ'ing at an afterparty at Lit tonight (Wednesdays are Melody Nelson's Atomique)

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