Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Gang of Four Tuesday

So I got invited to the Gang of Four show at the Venue on Tuesday (technically tonight as I write this). I hadn't planned to go, but now am very curious to see what it might sound like. It's arguable whether it's "really" Gang of Four, anymore - it's Andy Gill and three other people, none original members, very different from the reunited lineup that many Vancouverites saw a few years ago at a very memorable show at the Commodore... though the process of replacement was gradual, reminding me of an old lecture from SFU's Norman Swartz, as part of his metaphysics class, where he posited a circumstance by which a ship, restored many times over the years, has lost all its original pieces, but is still, because of an unbroken continuity of identity through time, the same ship; whereas if someone took all the discarded pieces and re-assembled them, it would not be. Regardless, it's been interesting catching up on their recent history: apparently after their previously mentioned comeback tour, the rhythm section left. That included Dave Allen, later of Shriekback; his basslines were a big part of the appeal of both bands for me, I must admit (especially on Shriekback's Care, say; he's right up there with the Animal Slaves' Rachel Melas for me, as one of my favourite bassists). Having recruited new members, Gill and original vocalist Jon King recorded a comeback album, Content, as Gang of Four; then King - who memorably treated a microwave oven as a percussion instrument at the Commodore, beating the shit out of it with a baseball bat - decided he didn't want to tour anymore and left as well. So sayeth Wikipedia, anyhow; there might be more to the story. Gill recruited other singers, and recorded yet another Gang of Four album, which, of course, a bunch of people have said shouldn't be called a Gang of Four album at all.

Maybe not, but here's the interesting bit: of the comebacks, I'm actually more drawn to the one WITHOUT King, What Happens Next. (You can hear the whole album here). I think it's a stronger album - dark, danceable, and compelling, a very confident album considering; King actually seems a bit tentative, weirdly enough, on Content (understand that I have listened to both albums only in part and for the first time just today). There's one or two tracks on the new one that I don't like too much ("The Dying Rays"), and it doesn't much sound like any version of the Gang of Four that we've had in the past (though there are a few different versions of the band to choose from, remember, some of which also didn't much sound like the others)... but people who want smart, potent music to dance to could do a lot worse. And the Venue would be a great, uh, venue, for this kind of music, really.

So now I'm thinking this could be a really cool show, whether or not it's really only Gang of Andy Gill. I mean, who cares? I've seen the Gang of Four reunion tour already. If this is something else, so be it - as long as it's something GOOD, which I'm kinda feeling it might be...!

More to come...

No comments: