Friday, 4 March 2016

Gang of Four @ Islington Mill (Fat Out Burrow) on 28.2.16

Black Lung drove me back to the Burrow entrance, not so much because their music was too loud or horrible or bland, but because they used a drum machine. I can't stand synthetic beats at high volume. With two guitarists and a bassist swamped in dry ice it seemed like they were taking a trip back to eighties gothness via the Sisters of Mercy and the Bolshoi. A friend thought they sounded a bit like the Verve and she had a point with the phased guitar sound at least. Paddy from Gnod was more succinct in his reaction as he fled the room: " A load of shite!" Whatever, they were too bland for my liking.
Last time I saw Gang of Four at Leeds Brudenell it hadn't been widely broadcast that original singer Jon King had left the band, leaving guitarist Andy Gill as the only remaining original member, so the new singer John Sterry was a bit of an unpleasant surprise for most people. People were quite down on him that night maybe as much because of that rather than the difficulty of walking in another man's boots. Now he's had time to wear those boots in, cut his hair and dyed it blonde, he seems much more suited to get some credit. Using two mics, one either side of the stage, he'd parade himself from left to right so everyone could catch a glimpse of his blonde crop from the packed Burrow floor. Andy Gill looked and sounded sharp, sparking shards of jagged guitar skree far from his smart suit. It's not surprising that they still play more songs from their debut "Entertainment" than any other albums as it's an unsurpassable classic. History's not made by great men but "Entertainment" is a great bit of history that still reflects our capital failing times with critical questioning. "Please send me evenings and weekends," should be a manifesto for a life well lived and even if it isn't "Return the Gift" is still great fun to dance around to with a trio of tattooed girls down the front.
About five songs in Andy Gill got "Paralysed" on the mic and got me down the front where there was actually much more room than further back in the Burrow. More people really should have been dancing as tunes that remind us "What We All Want" and scream "To Hell with Poverty" can't be beat for inspiring movement. After "Paralysed" I paraphrased the lyric back to Mr Gill: "You were good at what you did." He politely replied, "Thank you." So I asked him to do it again and he obliged with his eternally "Damaged Goods." Maybe the highlight was "Love Like Anthrax" with Andy hurling his guitar to the floor so it could feedback like a malevolent Hendrix ghost as it played itself to death. The girls loved to see him shoot, but some of us preferred synchronised swimming to football. After that fine onslaught, John Sterry introduced "Do As I Say" with the ironic comment, "This is another three minute pop gem." Maybe he had the post-Anthrax blues, but his come down wasn't hard to bear with spiky grooves like "At Home He's a Tourist" and "I Found That Essence Rare" for us to dance madly to. "He'd Send in the Army" to smash a microwave oven with a metal bar. Andy reckoned the final kiss goodbye "Essence Rare" was the best they'd ever played it. Now please send me more evenings and weekends.

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