It’s a new day for Gang of Four. Since Jon King’s exit in 2012, not too long after the release of Content, the band has transformed, rather metamorphosed, as a band. Through their metamorphosis from one monstrous Kafka-esque insect to a whole other creature entirely, they are reforming and redesigning what punk means today. On Wednesday night, to a fairish and dedicated crowd, Gang of Four took the stage at the Theater of the Living Arts.
The band is touring in support of their fifth full length release, What Happens Next (watch “Broken Talk” featuring Alison Mosshart of The Kills), an album name that resonates in several capacities both for the band as a whole as well as their acute palette for conversational lyricism. Their sound has also taken a sharper, more electronic-like sound (see “Isle of Dogs”, which Gang of Four performed live), without losing the wailing and verbose guitar musings of Andy Gill, the only remaining original member. A good measure of the new feel to Gang of Four’s music can be attributed to the recruitment of vocalist John “Gaoler” Sterry and the tone he sets both in performance and through his voice.
Gang of Four’s set at the TLA mostly focused on the back catalog, however, the band make a point of playing “Where the Nightingale Sings” off What Happens Next, the first track off the new album, a haunting song about the rush of societal perspectives cloaked by the darkness of night.
Sterry hopped between the three microphones on stage, strutting his fresh, off the cuff attitude. Gill also took to the microphone in several instances including the spoken word portion of “Anthrax” off 1979’s Entertainment!. Quite serendipitously, to those not privy to the setlist, “Damaged Goods” followed shortly after.
The energy between the foursome and the crowd were matched and was nothing short of electric. Even bassist Thomas McNeice retired is stoney scowl to rambunctiously stomp around the stage. “He’s A Tourist at Home” and “What We All Want”, via 2005’s Return the Gift, are the go to example for their TLA performance this past Wednesday. “To Hell With Poverty!” itself warranted the aggressive fist pumping and yelling it received.
Backstage the band, especially Andy Gill, are a lively and friendly group. Between discussing finer French wines to playful jabs at each other, they prove to be stand up guys off stage.
Overall, despite some technical issues Gang of Four faced during their performance at the TLA, they proved that they still got “it” and will continue to do the thing they love: perform.