Concert Review: Gang of Four, Radio 4, Metro, Chicago, Wednesday, May 11
If a decade or two ago I had ever seen New Order, the Pixies or Wire
put on as great a show as Gang of Four did on Wednesday night, I would
have had second thoughts about skipping their recent reunion tours.
While those other bands certainly recorded a bunch of great songs over
the years, there was little point in going to their concerts. For all
their charisma and stage presence, one could be just as entertained
putting all their CDs on shuffle and spending the night on the sofa.
Not so Gang of Four. Dave Allen, Andy Gill and John King prowled,
pranced and pounced on the stage, even if Hugo Burnham was a tad
detached behind his drum kit. It was hard to decide what was best about
"To Hell with Poverty," that is was instantly recognizable from the
first searing guitar chord or that the lyrics were still so relevant in
the current era of Republican callousness.
Dave Allen and I were both laid off by the same company when the dot
com bubble burst. While I'm glad that, like me, he other skills to fall
back on, I can't help but be jealous that his new job is lots cooler
than mine as a librarian, even if I do get to spend the taxpayers'
money on Gang of Four CDs.
Even if Radio 4 haven't carved a more unique identity than "Gang of
Four admirers with more complex percussion," they have written some
good songs in their own right. I finally figured out why they haven't
connected as a live act. Especially after seeing the hyperactive Gang
of Four, I realized that part of the problem is that, with all their
gear, Radio 4 have nowhere to move around on stage even if they wanted
to. But the bigger problem is simply the sound mix. The bass is cranked
so high it drowns out all the other instruments, particularly the