Review | The Go! Team play Thunder, Lightning, Strike at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea: "Still sounding startlingly fresh"
Twenty years on their debut album Thunder, Lightning, Strike still sounds startlingly fresh. Not every album suits, or deserves, the "play it in full" gig treatment, but I am very happy to report that the Mercury Prize-nominated Thunder... certainly does.
The band's lineup has shifted over the years, but frontwoman Ninja and founder Ian Parton have been central throughout.
These days they are a nine-headed multi-instrumentalist hydra. Alongside your basics of guitar, bass and drums we also have trumpets, keys, and at various points harmonica, melodica, a second drum kit, that old school favourite the recorder and – yes! – a theremin.
By sticking to the album's tracklist it does mean that their biggest single, Ladyflash, comes up second in the set. But they often do play it early these days, and within an album so relentlessly upbeat, this is not a problem.
Stylistically, they're all over the map – one minute they're playing post-rock Mogwai would be proud of, next up it's recorder-led hip-hop, or brassy funk – and none of it is dull. The instrumental songs are noticeably given extended workouts from their recorded versions.
And if you could plug Ninja into the National Grid she would single-handedly solve any energy crisis – she is a non-stop dynamo.
After the climactic blowout of Thunder...'s final track, Everyone's A VIP, the band take a breather before returning for a second set/extended encore, cherry-picking from their six other albums.
They kick off this set with the apt-for-the-season The Ice Storm - a Thunder...-era B-side instrumental, with its chiming bells and building atmospherics. From there it's a pure party – from the frenetic Whammy-O off most recent album Get Up Sequences, Part Two, to a singalong for Mayday, and call-and-response in Keys to The City, and much dancing.
Ninja tells us this is the longest set they've ever played, but given the response to the announcement of their final song Apollo Throwdown, the packed house would happily have had them play all night.
On a drizzly winter evening (or any day, I suspect), if you saw this show and it didn't lift your spirits and put a smile on your face, then I suspect you might be a teeny bit dead inside.