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Gang of Four – The Roxy - Los Angeles - February 6, 2019

Andy Gill from Gang of Four
12 February 2019

Photo by Cecilia Fonseca

Post-punk legends Gang of Four brought their influential blend of funk, disco and noise-rock to the Roxy last week. Initially active from 1977 to 1983, the band has enjoyed a few reunions over the years, including the brief return of their original lineup in 2004. The current incarnation features founding guitarist Andy Gill flanked by three relatively younger recruits.

John Sterry from Gang of Four
Photo by Cecilia Fonseca

Gill immediately dispensed with any lingering doubts the audience may have had regarding the “authenticity” of this lineup. He walked onstage, elicited a squall of feedback from his guitar, threw it on the ground, and began kicking the strings with his foot. The band joined in, launching into the classic anti-love song “Anthrax.” Bassist Thomas McNeice and drummer Tobias Humble locked onto the song’s massive groove as singer John “Gaoler” Sterry fixed a steely gaze on the audience.

Thomas McNeice from Gang of Four
Photo by Cecilia Fonseca

The Gang of Four catalog is filled with darkly subversive songs that manage to be simultaneously danceable and dissonant. The Roxy audience was treated to several heavy hitters from the post-punk era, including “At Home He’s a Tourist,” “Damaged Goods,” “Natural’s Not in It” and “To Hell with Poverty.” The band even took a crack at the minor dance hit “I Love a Man in Uniform.” Newer songs incorporated synth loops and backing tracks, proving that Gill and co. still have an interest in blurring the lines between dance and rock music. The more recent material was propulsive enough to keep the fans engaged as they waited for the classics.

Andy Gill from Gang of Four
Photo by Cecilia Fonseca

The political and social satire that infuses Gang of Four’s lyrics remains increasingly relevant today. Their brutal take-downs of consumerism, pop music, and capitalist culture have retained their bite, and the music has lost none of its attack.