Gang of Four + Hollerado at Metro: Live review
There’s a reason post-punk veterans Gang of Four have reunited so many times in the last two decades. The same reason their music inspired 2000’s indie dance-punk wave: Go4’s formula for a killer dance might have been forged from a then novel fusion of punk and funk, but as evident from their hour-and-a-half set at a nearly sold-out Metro last night, it was made to last. The band's classic lineup featuring the rhythm section of Dave Allen and Hugo Burnham reunited in 2004—a crew that hadn't played together since 1981. The reunion proved temporary as Burnham and Allen both completely bowed out by 2008 due to other commitments. But Gang of Four has carried on in other forms, and here it has again. Founding members Jon King (vocals) and Andy Gill (guitar) have joined up with new bassist Thomas McNeice and drummer Mark Heane to tour in support of the Gang's newly-released album Content, and the new gang does not disappoint.
Canadian indie rockers Hollerado opened with an hour-long set of angular, upbeat riffs, but it seemed the old-school crowd didn’t necessitate a warm-up. More than 60% of the audience was comprised of original Go4 vinyl-owning punk grownups, many of which were yelling out dates (1977-1983) they had seen the post-punk legends play before its current incarnation.
While Gang of Four was blasting through a seamless sounding discography of fresh and classic material, the night was chiefly about the King-Gill stage dynamic. Throughout their furious call-and-response tension and King’s dance outbursts (those ranged from solo synapse moves to literally crashing into his band mate), Gill maintained a leering disposition while he slashed the guitar. The look in his eyes screamed “I dare you to dance,” and the crowd obediently gave in.
The band delivered nearly every staccato guitar track and reggae-laden groove from the seminal ’79 album Entertainment! with a few selections from Content and singles such as "We Live As We Dream Alone" from Songs of the Free saving “Natural’s Not in it” for the first encore. King even shouted out his love for Chicago: “This is the greatest city in the universe,” he cried. “Muddy Waters, the center of all rock n’ roll!” Gang of Four returned a second time to play the favorite “Damaged Goods,” and though the audience was singing along to the last words “goodbye,” it’s obvious the band from Leeds isn't throwing in the towel soon.