The Go! Team are a minor miracle of synchronicity. Their Mercury-nominated debut album, Thunder, Lightning, Strike, was spliced together from sampled slivers of charity-shop vinyl by the Brighton film-maker Ian Parton. Seventies symphonic soul and children's-TV themes, Bollywood soundtracks, hip-hop and guitar rock were among his raw materials for a melodic, euphoric stew.
But when the Team were offered a Franz Ferdinand support slot, a second set of happy accidents had to be trusted to, as Parton assembled musicians to play his genre-busting collage. With the energetic hip-hop girl Ninja to front his vision, this live Go! Team became the definitive version. Though the band's quick creation has the whiff of a shoestring Pop Idol, their spirit has been the opposite. The Go! Team aren't pop professionals, but cheerful amateurs, and their undiminished idealism is proven again tonight. Their live reputation is so high they could be forgiven for coasting. Instead, as they near the end of their longest UK tour so far, they play a set stuffed with new songs.
Ninja is again the focus. Dressed like a cheerleader, with a tracksuited squad of girl singer-dancers as back-up, she imperiously whips the crowd into life. With two drummers giving a jazzily hip-hop-heavy base, and sampled soul brass laid on thick, Parton's sonic inventiveness is free to breathe.
The brash Eighties synth riffs of "The Ice Storm" are pierced by a Casio whine, the song ending in cacophonous chants. "Doin' It Right" is a 1978 Bronx-hip-hop, scratch-happy sing-along, in which the singers come across as a bratty Supremes.
There are few overt sentiments in Parton's lyrics, but Motown's "We Shall Overcome" philosophy is all over this music and the source of its euphoria. This feeling can also be traced back to the Seventies-TV themes sampled on the album. The stabs of brass resonate with memories of beloved detective and children's shows. The singers' chants and handclaps reinforce the sense of schoolyard innocence. Even the harder beats of "Panic Vandalism" ignore rap's posturing for the infectious sight of Ninja letting go, hair thrashing wildly, over blaring blaxploitation brass.
Maybe all this stems from Parton being a pop scholar, not an adrenalised outsider. There's a safety to his music because of it. But as everyone struts their stuff for the finale of "Ladyflash", I can't hear anyone complaining.Reuse content