“Guerilla war struggle is a new entertainment”

My month long residency of great concerts in Baltimore continued Wednesday night when a group of us went up to SONAR to see Gang of Four. I failed to review the wonderful Gang of Four show at the 930 Club last spring because I went immediately from that show to my honeymoon in Quebec. Needless to say the old post-punk masters really did a job on the 930 Club.

Going into the show at SONAR I felt like we were attending a footnote concert to that amazing Spring show. Surely this show couldn’t top what was easily one of the best shows of 2005 could it? As we watched the two awful opening acts, I couldn’t even imagine a scenario where Gang of Four could improve on the perfection I witnessed last May. But then Jon King, guitar guru Andy Gill and the rest of the Gang hit SONAR’s stage and immediately I could sense that something was in the air.

First of all, the crowd at SONAR was small, real special concert in the making small, maybe 90 people. – nice and intimate. Second Jon King and Andy Gill just looked real serious when they took the stage. Like tough-guy brit hit men or something. Andy Gill plucked and shredded his guitar like it was a tommy-gun. Each shriek was met by an unholy howl from the lips of Jon King who looked like a deranged lunatic businessman who’s “mad as hell and isn�t going to take it anymore!” The rhythm section was on fire with staccato precision and a throbbing sex beat that got everybody moving instantly.

From the first strain of “Return the Gift”, Gang of Four announced themselves at SONAR and that they meant business. The set-list was similar to the 930 Club show, only enhanced by some rarities such as “5:45” and “I Parade Myself.” The definite highlight for me was during the second encore when they ripped through an absolutely unholy version of “Guns before Butter.”

I find it difficult to express how great these guys are live. They are obviously old pros, but they play with a youthful exuberance and gusto that takes their stage show so above and beyond all the newer wave hipster posturing that all these new skinny tie bands try to pawn off as stage presence. Gang of Four really ripped the roof off of SONAR, exposing all 90 of us lucky souls to their ferocious song crescendos and the ugly truths of American life via their biting lyrics as delivered by Jon King’s trademark screech and Andy Gill’s patented monotone.

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