Post-punk is now getting slightly long in the tooth. It is not rare to find subject’s of Simon Reynolds’ great book “Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984”, following in the footsteps of the generation before them and hitting the nostalgia circuit.
Gang of Four: even though the band’s beloved original lineup made a triumphant return at Coachella in 2005 (an event I had the honor of witnessing in person), the ensuing near-decade saw a variety of internal complications whittle the machine down to only one original member – legendary guitarist, and incredible producer, Andy Gill. Gill has carried on with a reconstructed version of the band with three young guns. This choice has left Gang of Four open to skepticism from fans and critics alike. At their best, Gang of Four was a confrontational and nonconformist entity. Starting a new band with new members playing a mix of old and new tunes fits into the band’s credo, and fortunately, this incarnation’s recently released album, What Happens Next, has far more peaks than valleys.
But what about the new band’s live show?
Urgency and angularity are the keys to the Gang of Four sound. Last night at the El Rey, the band attacked with rhythm and tension, rather than melody and tune.
Like fellow post punkers Husker Du, Gang Of Four tend to play less songs, but rather three or four song groups with little or no break. The opening numbers crescendo-ed from a slow but artistic start, to eventually showing off their impressive musical chops.
Gang of Four is a band that flouts many of the clichés of punk influenced music. It’s complex, from both a conceptual and a musical perspective. It’s also aggressive without a macho sexist vibe —very, very heady stuff.
Andy Gill himself may very well be the most influential guitar player to the current generation of guitarists in indie rock today. You can hear his sound in guitarists from Thurston Moore to LCD Soundsystem’s David Scott Stone, to Interpol’s Daniel Kessler.
Singer John “Gaoler” Sterry eased into his front man status through the night, it became evident that his internal crescendo would build song after song. As he broke microphones and stood on the monitors while dancing around the stage, almost knocking into Gill’s swinging guitar a few times, it seems this is the best job he has ever had.
While bassist Thomas McNiece is an absolute beast on his axe, his thick basslines and supporting rhythms make you forget he wasn’t a founding member, but the star of the show is Gill himself. His staccato bursts, chiming chord rings and soaring, but biting leads navigate the band at every turn. As the night progressed with classics like “Isle of Dogs,” “To Hell with Poverty,” “I Love A Man in Uniform,” and “,” Gang Of Four pummeled the audience as hard as Slayer would but with the technique similar to Rush. The band polished off their set with the show closer, “Return the Gift” — a fitting and sweaty end to a unique show by a unique band.
Opening up for Gang Of Four were Public Access TV. Check out the photos below of both bands performing at the El Rey Theatre.
Words: Stephe Psi-X
Photography: Wes Marsala
(note – this article previously mistitled one song and listed GoF’s Andy Gill as a music critic. The music critic Andy Gill is a different Andy Gill. Apologies to all.)
Gang Of Four
Gang Of Four
Public Access TV
Public Access TV
Want more photos? Check out the photo gallery below!