There are hardly any people when we arrive at the Powerstation 15 minutes before Gang Of Four are due on stage – the upstairs balcony is shut and only a couple of hundred people hang around the edges of the auditorium. It’s horrifying – a tiny crowd for one of popular music’s most influential bands for their first-ever New Zealand show?
(Though we do have to laugh when we see a tweet come through referring to the crowd as “Gang of Dads”* – our group could possibly be some of the youngest people in the room and we’re healthily into our 30s…)
However the numbers seem to pick up a bit by showtime – and the sparcity of the crowd does allow us the luxury of getting right up the front without feeling like sardines.
The band starts out somewhat ominously. The first three songs sound almost middle-of-the-road, and I can’t help fixating on the fact Jon King’s shirt/jacket has a button undone in the middle that gapes open whenever he flails his arms around, which is often. Luckily Andy Gill provides a typically stern countenance throughout, a welcome counterpoint for when King’s postering got too much.
Thankfully they soon find their stride – I’m not taking notes but it may be with At Home He’s A Tourist (with the crowd gleefully chanting “down on the disco floor”), followed up with an epic version of Paralysed, boosted by the lighting kicking up a gear and a bit of smoke adding extra atmospherics.
And then it’s all on – Jon’s dodgy buttoning is forgotten (apart from the moment when he does the button up and puts the button in to the wrong hole – someone sort this man out for christ’s sake!) and I’m Andy Gill’s forever. I can even live with the incongruous Lenny Kravitz-alike on bass, who turns out to have extraordinarly good chops, despite being barged around the stage by King and Gill for most of the gig in a hilarious post-punk slapstick style.
Following a set including all of my GO4 favourites (I Love A Man In Uniform gets special attention for a great rendition – and for being the name of one of the better parties I’ve thrown in recent years) and some newer songs I’m not familiar with but sound pretty fine, we get two encores.
The first is rounded off by Jon thrashing the heck out of an old National microwave in thrilling style during He’d Send In The Army; the second a one-song-special, an awesome version of Damaged Goods which leaves us wanting still more. We don’t get it of course, but then we’re just being greedy.
Nice work old fellas.
* So dad-like in fact, that I had to take today off work after catching a sore back from one of the grey-haired massive. Sore backs are contagious, aren’t they?