Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Concert Recommendation: Gang of Four with Radio 4, May 11 & 12 at the Metro

Before there was Franz Ferdinand, the Futureheads and a myriad of other early-'80s angular punk revival bands, there was the original angular punk band, Gang of Four. Their songs are now underground classics, epitomized by scratching guitars and throbbing basslines: "I Found That Essence Rare," "I Love a Man in a Uniform," "Damaged Goods," etc. Their influence is all over the charts these days. And the original line-up has reunited to bask in the warranted glory.

Admittedly, their first reunion tour in 1991 for Mall, which only included original members Andy Gill and Jon King, didn't make much of an impression on me. But I wasn't as familiar with their back catalog then.  More importantly, the rhythm section of drummer Hugo Burnham and Dave Allen is with them now, and Allen is not only a distinctive player but also has considerable stage presence. So this tour bodes better than those for, say Wire or New Order, influential bands who don't provide much worth watching in concert.

Radio 4, a Brooklyn band who take lots of inspiration from Gang of Four but haven't gotten nearly the level of publicity as their like-sounding peers, are opening. I've seen them twice and found them somehow lacking. As much as I love their edgy, driving recordings, they haven't connected yet live. But I view it as a "yet," holding out hope that they'll find a way to make their shows more invigorating.

Gang of Four play with Radio 4 at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., Chicago, 773.549.0203 at 7:30 on Wednesday, May 11 and Thursday, May 12.

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