Gang Of Four, The Outer Space Hamden, CT Friday October 2nd, 2015 Reviewed
What do you get when you cross a bleak industrial park on a rainy cold October night with a legendary British ‘post punk’ band Gang of Four? Perfection.
The dark cold and crumbled warehouse surroundings couldn’t have been scripted more accurately for the sound. Having never been to Hamden’s “Outer Space Ballroom”, I had no idea what I was to encounter other than the sister club to the All Ages “The Space” located across the parking lot.
The same gritty vibe can be had in both spots, just The Outer Space serves craft beers. Pretty odd dynamic but I’m not there for hops and barely, but rather to hear one of the bands that mesmerized my youth.
The choppy dance music ushered my teen aged punk angst. But with Andy Gill as the only ‘original’ member was I seeing Gang of Four or was it just a cover band now? If you lose the vocalist, can they be the same band? Its an issue I have battled repeatedly. The voice of the band is the band.. the musicians, well, they’re often not that distinguishable from those with similar talent levels. Vocally, Gang of Four has an extremely distinct sound and this was my primary concern heading in to the gig.
John Sterry took on the vocals and with the autistic glaze made so famous by the industrial scene he slide skipped the stage like a spastic Ian Curtis tribute, until you realize his shtick is legit. Despite his younger age Sterry ‘gets it’ and brilliantly side kicked by an antiqued Andy Gill new life is pressed into what could be a sad excuse of nostalgia. Be it the incredibly charisma of Sterry and bassist Thomas McNeice or the brilliant choices made by Gill, Gang of Four 2015 carries the same angsty uncomfortable edginess of their original vibe. How on earth are they pulling it off? Simple- they brought in the youth. By doing so the audience of former punks now turned school teachers can feel like they’re back in time, the only reality check is Gill, who still looks damn good at 60 but is wise enough to not get too flashy on stage. Its a well choreographed waltz of old and new and the songs carry with them the power of decades past.
Now lets get on with it. We’ve determined the band is in tact. They sound fabulous despite poor mixing at board level but I cant fault them for that- thats a tech thing. Most evident in my personal band favorite (Love Like) Anthrax. The spoken word portion which I was dying to hear, was beyond low- and barely audible. Gill didn’t meet up with Sterry for the buzz lines “beetle on its back”…et al, I got jipped but Sterry saved the day with a spot on recreation of the original tune pauses and all. Missing from the set list were some classics, we weren’t able to love a man in a uniform, but Im OK with that.
My greatest fears went un realized. It wasn’t a cheesy blast from the past or a sad cover band of Gang of Four greatness. Instead I got a solid rock show with a great front man and a properly placed legend. I do need to pause to make mention of the amazing talent of drummer Jonny Finnigan, that man could bang a kit that’s for sure. And as tribal as the band can get at time, a beat wasn’t missed. Absolute brilliance.
Ah, you thought Id let my assessment of the crowd pass? No way. What an odd group of super old biker types (Gold Wing white collar wanna bes actually) and some schoolmarm old hags swaying like they were under the impression they still had sex appeal. Peppered amongst them were the typical hipsters and the 30 somethings who balanced out the 300 capacity room. Which didn’t sell out, but should have.