Metro Theatre, Sydney, Tuesday January 24
Two drummers? No we’re not talking about S.A’s Wolf and Cub. Supercool Japanese multi-instrumentalist chica? Take your Cibo Matto references henceforth fool. We’re talking about UK kids The Go! Team, whose six-piece spectacular took over the Metro Theatre last Tuesday and took the somewhat sleepy crowd into their cut-and-paste musical world of mayhem.
The Brighton band’s Thunder Lighting Strike! was an inexplicitly soft release here in Australia in 2004. For a musical climate who still worship The Avalanches like they were Jesus born again – just turning samples into music instead of one fish into many – The Go! Team’s summer-soaked mix of TV show anthems, sunshine funk, early hip-hop and feel-good pop didn’t seem to whack that many music lovers over the head. Not the case O/S: the band were well received into the mainstream, even nominated for the UK’s prestigious Mercury Prize (they lost to Franz Ferdinand). But while the album sat firmly in my top ten list, touring it was going to be another beast altogether.
When heading into the studio with producer and caffeine firmly in hand, it’s not uncommon for a band to plan to record an album that’s easy to tour. That means holding back on sampling in an orchestra for that big swelling chorus – unless of course you have room on the tour bus for a few dozen violinists. The sample-based, vocal-line free Thunder Lighting Strike! was always going to be a difficult album to turn into a live show. The solution The Go! Team came up with was to seriously increase ball-of-energy rapper Ninja’s role in the band. From singing on only a few tracks, now this incredible tour-de-force of a performer is the centre of attention for the band, singing on almost every track. As a visual representation, she’s amazing – shaking that ass like it’s her last day before a wheelchair-bound future. But musically, it’s different story. The vocals have, for the most part, been developed after the album was finished, laying over the top of instrumental tracks. As such there’s little organic relationship between the melody of the live instruments and the melody of the songs. Without the vocal riffs of rock and pop verses and chorus’ and without the steady, groove-inducing beat of hip-hop, the result seemed a touch on the messy side. That said, there’s a lot to be said for pure energy and Ninja certainly worked the crowd for all we were worth, and there was enough synergy between the live show and album for your average punter to walk away with sore legs and a smile in place.