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  GANG OF FOUR w/ The Departure  
  Manchester Academy II  
  Manchester, UK  
Reviewed by:
  Indoor Miner  
Performance Rating:
Sound Quality:
Overall Rating:

After all these years, the Gang of Four are back! But before we took a trip down memory lane, I was looking forward to seeing up and coming support act, The Departure, who had impressed with last year's rather nifty Be My Enemy single.

Unfortunately, I only caught half of their set, and (presumably) missed the song I was looking forward to. Still, itís fair to say that most of the material was in the same vein with lots of slashing guitars and fairly big choruses. The resulting effect was not unlike Gang of Four playing the works of Duran Duran. Consequently, The Departure sound not unlike a modern day Then Jericho, albeit a Then Jericho thatís minus the good looking singer. Indeed, The Departure are a really uncool looking band. The bassist had that elbow in the sky posture that Level 42ís Mark King might have adopted, whilst the guitarist went to stand on the monitor and slipped, though at least he saw the funny side. And the singer's a funny looking frontman, resembling Spandau Balletís Tony Hadley going for an Ian Curtis look. And though I know I'm not selling them very well here, I did kind of like them. Though, I should point out that all these 80ís references arenít accidental by any means!

And then, the moment weíd been waiting for. And from the moment they opened with a tribal beat care of Hugo Burnham, before Andy Gill, standing centre stage, added his trademark slashing guitar, you knew you were in for a treat. Jon King, stage left, then joined in with a spot of maracas before Dave Allen added the final ingredient with a heavy throbbing bass that I could feel deep in my chest. It was a classy entrance, and a classy number.

And that was just the start, because Gang of Four maintained momentum throughout, putting on a real visual treat. Star of the show Gill strutted around like Chuck Berry receiving electric shock treatment, while Allen adopted what can only be described as rock postures. In the meantime, King danced around stage like some demented soul. King is an energetic front man for sure. My favourite move was when he suddenly dropped to the floor and, within the blink of the eye, was up and singing at the mic at the side of the stage! As for Burnham, well, he played in darkness at the back all night, so we saw very little of him. But Burnham's importance shouldnít be under-estimated. At times, he kept a metronomic beat going in much the same way as Wireís Robert Gotobed so often does.

Iím not a Gang of Four completist by any means, but there were lots of oldies in the set. The highlights included King banging that piece of metal to He'd Send In The Army (whereupon some "wit" in the crowd shouted "You noisy f***er!"), a wild Natural's Not In It, and a rousing At Home Heís A Tourist. The latter song inspired a lovely moment at the beginning when Allen briefly lost his studied cool and smiled as he watched the audience going crazy to that riff.

The first encore ended with Damaged Goods, which Ė owing to Allenís fluffed intro Ė led to him and Gill getting all matey with the audience as they informed us how many mistakes the other had made. Itís fair to say that this cheeriness was at odds with the rest of the set! They could quite happily have ended it there for me since the "Goodbye, goodbye" refrain certainly seemed appropriate. But, on they came again for I Found That Essence Rare, before Burnham wandered to the front and joined the rest of the band in lapping up the audience devotion.

I donít know if Gang Of Four plan to come to the States or not. But if they do, donít miss them. Youíre in for a treat.

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