Let Me Entertain You: Gang Of Four @ TLA 2.5.11

I’m no stranger to punk and new wave bands that are still making the rounds. In the past few years, I’ve seen Devo, Public Image Ltd., the Buzzcocks, The Psychedelic Furs, The English Beat and The B-52’s. Leeds’ post-punk pioneers, Gang Of Four, aren’t just looking to revive their heyday, they’re back with a mission. As has mostly been the case since 1983, Gang Of Four currently features just two of its original members: guitarist Andy Gill and singer Jon King. Though the band’s original rhythm section boasted peerless lockstep grooves, the band’s current arrangement is still plenty potent. With an over 30-year legacy and a brand new batch of tunes, would these vets be able to effectively connect all of these musical fringes? Of course! It’s the freakin’ Gang Of Four!

The set kicked off with Content’s blistering single, “You’ll Never Pay For The Farm,” giving early reassurance that this was no nostalgia act. As expected, the song choices were primarily from Content and Entertainment!, the band’s beloved 1977 debut. The crowd took pretty well to the new songs, unsurprising given how well they fit alongside the older material. King pointed out the thematic contrast between “What We All Want” and “I Party All The Time,” and the moody triptych of “Paralyzed,” “A Fruitfly In The Beehive” and “Anthrax” showed off Gill’s fantastic skill of creating sheets of distortion. Toward the end of “Anthrax,” Gill’s guitar wound up being kicked to and fro across the stage. As the instrument lie screeching and hissing at his feet, Gill took a casual sip from the beverage perched atop his amplifier, thus perpetrating the night’s most completely punk rock behavior.

As the forefathers of dance punk, Gang Of Four would’ve been ill-advised to hold back when it came time to freak out. Shoving and latching himself onto Gill and bassist Thomas McNeice as he thrashed about, King led the TLA in lively renditions of “To Hell With Poverty!” and, in the encore, “I Love A Man In Uniform” and “Damaged Goods,” three of the band’s signature tunes. Whether they had heard Content or not, this was a show to be enjoyed by even the most casual Gang Of Four fan. King and Gill know exactly what their fans want to hear, and they expertly feature their new tunes so as not to alienate anyone listening. For a band who built a reputation on intense arrangements and extreme politics, Gang Of Four have turned out to be one of the most satisfying, most enduring bands of the punk era.

Click the picture at the top of this post to see more pictures of Gang Of Four in concert!!


~ by E. on February 8, 2011.

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