Some bands appear to come with a preordained mission statement: the Sex Pistols pledged ‘Anarchy In The UK’, Oasis wanted to be ‘Rock ‘N Roll Stars’ and The Go! Team, well…that’s a bit trickier to decipher. The band comprises two drummers, two female backing singers, a man with the largest guitar pedal collection in the world, and a rapping female lead singer called Ninja. Their sound is a lo-fi take on indie-rock, inter-spliced with old-skool hip-hop and heavy samplework. They instrument-swap at pace, sometimes within a single song, and utilise a combination of banjo, melodica, recorder and steel drums. Needless to say, it’s a confusing aural soup, and one that has the propensity to backfire.
Lo and behold, to begin with, things didn’t seem to be going all that well. The mix was muddy, and lead single ‘Grip Like A Vice’ from sophomore record ‘Proof Of Youth’ was completely wasted only two songs in. The venue, though close to capacity, had a leaden atmosphere and frustration began to creep across the bands’ faces, punctuated by a relatively muted reception from onlookers. Now on their third album, and having been touring and recording without much of a break for over seven years, one would expect interest in the band to sag.
Well, if it has, it wasn’t evident for the vast majority of this gig. The Go! Team have an ace up their sleeve in the form of Ninja, who is as engaging and relentless a frontwoman as one could ask for. If she asks you to wave your hands, you follow her lead as if she was conducting; when she asked if people were having fun, the roar back was deafening. The crowd, having initially been reluctant to get involved, were by the close of the show throwing down ridiculous moves left, right and centre. It was a complete transformation, aided by increased sound clarity and old favourites such as ‘Huddle Formation’ and ‘Bottle Rocket’ coming out to play, in which Ninja’s rapid-fire lyrical delivery was backed by cheerleader-style chanting from the two other female vocalists in the band. As the show closed out on new LP highlight ‘Back Like 8 Track’, with its infectious steel drum rolls and killer hook, Ninja thanked the crowd and comically jogged off stage. It looked like no person was left without a gigantic grin on their face, or without at least a bead or two of sweat rolling down their back. It was a thoroughly exhausting, but totally joyful experience, and it left me with a final thought: maybe they wanted little more than to, as goes biggest hit to date ‘Ladyflash’, “come here to rock the microphone”. And they did that with aplomb.
…Gabriel has been listening to: Shackleton – ‘Fabric 55’ …