Brighton’s very own The Go! Team didn’t just bring the party to their adoring fans at their upgraded Concorde 2 show, they somehow managed to turn an evening of enough chaos and eccentricities to derail many other gigs into a crazy success. In a venue that was packed to the rafters even for the early supports, the crowd had turned up for just one thing: to have a good time. Indeed that is what they got on a night where convention, rules and pretty much everything else went out of the window.
The first support came from Neon Saints Brass Band, a Brighton collective that don’t just boast 11 members but also a truly great mix of a classic New Orleans sound fused with a hip-hop and soul mentality. There couldn’t have been a better choice of warm-up band, with most of the crowd dancing and bopping right from the off. Mostly sticking to their Show Me Something material with a couple of choice cuts added in (including a random Destiny’s Child cover), they were fantastic. Highlight was the funky ‘Coming Out The Door’, bumped along by the deep bass of a sousaphone. Next up were Berlin band Gurr, injecting a change of pace with their spiky indie-pop/rock that contains a heart of punk (think a grungier The Big Moon). Anyone expecting a full night of straight-up boogie-ing would have been surprised by the fuzzy joy brought to the stage by best friends Andreya Casablanca and Laura Lee, a duo who now seemingly live semi-permanently on tour. Tracks like ‘#1985’ and ‘In My Head’ showed them at their best, spinning and flailing around the stage with a real punk spirit.
With the release of Semicircle (The Go! Team’s fifth studio album) and the unusual feat of selling out the show not just once but twice, it was inevitable that there would be something of a celebratory air to the night. Semicircle saw the return of some old favourites, with rapper Ninja and guitarist Sam Dook back in the fold as founder member and leader Ian Parton once again explored a joyous care-free world of nostalgic sounds. There has always been a massive difference between the recorded and live versions of The Go! Team and tonight was no exception. A discordant explosion of sound marked their ascent to the stage, before they opened with ‘Flashlight Fight’ from 2007’s Proof Of Youth (each album was represented tonight). Blinding lights and a dazzling burst of energy from Ninja and the gang made it hard to know what to keep your eyes on in a blistering start.
Truth be told, after that the performance wasn’t great at times tonight – sound issues seemed to plague the group, with instruments either not working or playing up, the singing was patchy at best at times, while the dense sonic layers became muddied and messy. Ninja’s inter-song chats with the audience were often drowned out by a burst of guitar behind her by someone not paying attention, and at times the wheels seemed to nearly come off altogether. Yet, even with all that in mind, very few in the crowd seemed to really notice or care that the night was tiptoeing along the very edge of chaos. Maybe a few more people propped up the bar during some of the newer tracks, but that is nothing unusual for a band for whom 14 years have passed since the album that they are most famous for was released. It is that sense of chaos that makes The Go! Team a must-see proposition, with instruments swapped mid-song and each song being led (literally tonight in her cheerleader outfit) by the unstoppable Ninja.
As the big guns from their Mercury Music-nominated Thunder, Lightning, Strike were rolled out towards the end, it was impossible to ignore or not get wrapped up in the hazy feel-good vibes. ‘Everyone’s A V.I.P. To Someone’ was sheer bliss with its gentle harmonica and banjo combo prompting most sets of arms to wave in the air, while of course tracks such as ‘Huddle Formation’ and ‘Get It Together’ were received as warmly as ever, and the room turned into a loved-up mess of people. Tonight was a perfect summation of The Go! Team really. Through sheer force of will and an undying home support as much as anything else, they took a show and sold it out, had it upgraded and then sold it out again. All that before putting on a show that was equal parts brilliant, chaotic, eccentric, maddening and messy. If ever a night summed up The Go! Team and Brighton itself perfectly, it was this one. Bonkers.