LIVE REVIEW >> The Go! Team

The Wardrobe, Leeds //Saturday, February 10, 2018

As seasoned gig-goers, we’re used to all the feelings that live music evokes: Awe. Inspiration. Discomfort. Despair. Rage. But when the overriding emotion is complete and utter joy – to the point where your face hurts from smiling and your legs ache from dancing hours after the gig has finished – you know you’ve been part of something pretty special.

The Go Team

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching THE GO! TEAM do their thing, you’ll know exactly what I mean. They’re that rare band that manage to take a jarring mix of old school hip-hop, double dutch chants, garage rock, 70s funk and psychedelia to create an infectious sound that is unmistakably their own.

We’ve been fans of the Brighton band since their Thunder, Lightning Strike days, when Ladyflash was the soundtrack to beers and barbecues on illusive summer days. More than ten years on, and they prove they’ve still got it with their defiant fifth album Semicircle.

Because when the inspiration behind an album is described as: “a school marching band gone rogue, chucking away their sheet music to blast out Northern soul stompers of Japanese indie-pop swooners or old-school hip-hop jams,” you know you’re in for a treat.

Ahead of The Go! Team taking to the stage in the underground lair of The Wardrobe, we’re treated to a set from German girl-band GURR (check them out if you’re going to see Shame at the Brudenell in April!).

We overhear someone saying that they’re the best support act they’d seen in ages. Not wrong. Exuding confidence and all the energy you’d expect from a Go! Team warm-up act, the Berlin duo and their band blasted out the kind of sassy, self-assured garage rock you’d expect to hear at the defining moment of a late-90s high school flick (yes, we’re talking Ten Things I Hate About You. And yes, that’s a GOOD thing. Don’t judge).

And then it’s time. The eight-strong squad march on stage and within seconds, the party is ON. This is the musical equivalent of a rainbow confetti canon, releasing a kaleidoscopic riot of melodies designed to make you dance, smile – feel. 

There are trumpets. Drums. Recorders. Harmonicas. Tambourines. And at the heart of it all, there’s Ninja. In a shape-shifting line-up, Ninja has been a Go! Team mainstay from the start and it’s easy to see why. Blessed with the boundless energy of a champion cheerleader, Ninja chants and bounces her way through the gig, rallying the crowd with shout-outs and hand claps a-plenty.

Semicircle sounds every bit as impressive live as we’d expect. Mayday and Semicircle Song establish themselves as trademark Go! Team tunes, while She Got Guns serves up an irresistible side of swagger. But for long-time fans, the most special moments of the night are reserved for classics that established The Go! Team as the bringers of joy that they are.

Surrendering our uncoordinated limbs to the party, we bounce breathlessly to the inimitable Huddle Formation and sway to the harmonica-laden melodies of Everyone’s A VIP To Someone. And then, there’s Ladyflash. It may be a dreary February evening in a Leeds basement, but for that moment, we’re transported back to those mid-90s summers, sipping on our cheap beers and breathing in those last moments of intoxicating freedom that came before adulthood tightened its joyless grip.

And if all that isn’t joyful enough (yes, we’ve said joy a lot – this was an evening of ALL the joy), the good folk at The Wardrobe made the sweet vibes sweeter, pumping the room with the delectable smells of sticky toffee pudding while we shook our things to Ninja and co. Nice.

On Semicircle, chief Go! Teamer Ian Parton said: “It’s about reminding yourself of the good things in life. We don’t want to be dumbly optimistic and say, ‘Hey, isn’t everything great!’ but there’s something to be said for just getting on with it, for getting organised and not letting the fuckers get you down. Party for your right to fight!”

And therein lies the beauty of The Go! Team. In a world saturated with misery and despair, The Go! Team have always been an unapologetic explosion of fun and optimism. It’s musical escapism at its best, transporting you to a world where only good vibes are allowed. And we’re very much down with that.

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