courtesy of Gang of Four.
In 2005, the return of Gang of Four felt vital. Playing to a packed 9:30 Club, touring in support of ‘Return the Gift’ on which they re-recorded most of their greats, the original Gang of Four roster played a blistering set that left us breathless and neck-sore from the sudden aural thrashing they gave us. The surprising vigor and fury that this 25-year old band played with in 2005 seemed to deliver a message to the droves of post-millennial-shift, post-punk pop revivalists that said “This is how its done”. Danceable rhythm and angular guitars amount to little substance without the spit and anger, the passion and snarl, the political outrage and razor sharp criticism. It was one of the best shows of the year.
In 2011, the return of Gang of Four feels somewhat unnecessary and yet it is welcome. Playing to a 3/4 full 9:30 Club on Wednesday night, touring in support of a strong new album ‘Content’, the reconstituted Gang of Four (featuring Jon King and Andy Gill with a new rhythm section) played an uneven set that entertained us and occasionally thrilled us but did not come close to the impact of their last reunion run. Part of the reason for this was the uneven mix of new songs and classics, part of it was the slightly off chemistry of the new line-up, and part of it was the fast and loose nature of the performance which lacked the ruthless reclaiming-the-title motivation of their 2005 shows. Even with the lumps though, this show was a fun one that offered enough highlights to make for a fine night of music and ended with a fantastic finale that finally tapped into some of that 2005 tour magic.