The Go! Team @ Gorilla, Manchester @ 17.02.18

On reliably dazzling form, the South Coast collective deliver a stunning set at a full capacity Manchester Gorilla

Feb 17th, 2018 at Gorilla, Manchester / By Richard Lewis
The Go! Team @ Gorilla, Manchester @ 17.02.18 Armed with ebullient new LP Semicircle (review), Brightonian genre scanning ensemble The Go! Team arrive in Manchester to play a sold-out show at under the arches gig parlour Gorilla. One of the UK's best live bands, it’s puzzling that they're not playing the more capacious Ritz over the road, if talent was an indicator of such things mind, they would selling out the Arena.

Quickly gathering onstage and readying themselves to take flight, ‘Team leader Ian Parton raises his hand high in the air in the Go! Team Assemble call sign before launching the eight-piece into opening salvo Flashlight Fight. Mayday, the second cut to be pulled from the new LP and one of their strongest singles follows, stomping past in forthright fashion with its brass assisted hook, Ninja delivering the spoken word verses into a walkie-talkie and the audience chorusing the Morse Code refrain.

Understandably keen to plug their new wares, over half of Semicircle is essayed, with The Answer’s No – Now What’s the Question? and Ninja-powered hip-hop gem She’s Got Guns slotting in well alongside surefire bangers Grip Like A Vice and Keys to the City. Joined by a two-piece brass section, the eight (count ‘em) players on stage are able to re-interpret the studio versions in stunning fashion. Given that many alternative acts have difficulty getting the standard guitar-bass-drums-vox set up properly balanced, with the vocals almost always suffering in small venues, here absolutely everything is in hi-def. From the feedback laden Sonic Youth guitar blowouts to the delicate banjo riff of Everyone’s a V.I.P. to Someone played by axeman Sam Dook, the whole affair is brilliantly captured.

Aside from their redoubtable back catalogue, the not-so-secret weapon the Brightonians possess to push them up a level live is of course vocalist Ninja. An irrepressible, dynamic presence of seemingly boundless energy, the lead vocalist is one of the best frontpersons out there. Co-lead singer Angela ‘Maki’ Won-Yin Mak comes to the fore for a dip into the back catalogue with the excellent title track from 2015s The Scene Between and another titular cut, the indie rock rampage of Rolling Blackouts, from possibly the band’s best LP, issued in 2011.

A steamrollering version of Huddle Formation, powered by drummer Simone Odaranile is imbued with a power that the recorded version only hints at, with the call and response ‘Okay!’ lyric bellowed en masse by the crowd. Semicircle Song sees the kids who stated their name and star-sign on the record replaced with people in the front row, Ninja adding to the track's marching band theme with a majorette-style pair of hand cymbals.

After an exhilarating hour and a quarter which seems to have flown past in five minutes the power is off and the capacity crowd filters out. ‘You’re really good!’ someone from the crowd shouts enthusiastically halfway through the set, sounding slightly surprised. ‘Cheers!’ Ninja shouts in response. For a severely truncated capsule review ‘really good’ will just about do, but on reflection is an understatement equivalent to saying the universe is pretty large.