Amid numerous peculiar predictions for 2024, this year also commemorates two decades since the mid-noughties era. Specifically, it marks the twenty-year milestone since the formation of Brighton-based band The Go! Team, and the release of their debut LP, Thunder, Lightning, Strike, in 2004.
Promising a unique experience, the seven-piece band, excluding touring musicians, pledged to perform the entire album in its original track listing order; they also promised the longest set for this Roundhouse gig.
Kicking off the performance with "Panther Dash," an instrumental track from Thunder, Lightning, Strike, The Go! Team showcased a blend of influences ranging from indie, funk, hip-hop, folk, and mysticism. The track's glorious trumpets elevated it to a status reminiscent of Beck's "Sexx Laws." Following this opener was the iconic "Ladyflash," the song that introduced the world to The Go! Team. Reflecting on the setlist, one couldn't help but ponder the strategic placement of hits in anniversary shows, with "Ladyflash" ideally positioned as a captivating encore finale.
Despite the eagerness of frontwoman Ninja, sound checks lagged behind, underscoring the anticipation for the infectious energy of the band's live performance. Ninja, intriguingly, refrained from delving into specific song details and meanings, instead offering a retrospective on the band's live experiences. Noteworthy was the performance of "The Power Is On," track four from the debut LP, which artfully built upon Fat Boy Slim's "Gangster Trippin'" and was showcased on Jools Holland's show twenty-one years ago.
The subsequent track, "Get It Together," demonstrated its appeal beyond its role as a video game soundtrack, proving its worth in a live setting. "We Just Won't Be Defeated" showcased The Go! Team's knack for intensifying audience participation contrasts the main support act, Charif Magarbone, whose prog-rock with Middle Eastern influences struggled to engage the audience.
As the remainder of Thunder, Lightning, Strike unfolded, the audience experienced a sonic journey encompassing heavy guitar rock, harmonica, banjo, and Christmas chart-topping arrangements. While the sold-out show primarily celebrated the album's anniversary, The Go! Team convincingly demonstrated that their back-catalogue extends far beyond 2004.
Songs like "Mayday," featuring mature solos and funk riffs intertwined with mysticism, showcased the band's enduring ability to captivate the crowd. Tracks such as "Keys to the City" and "Apollo Throwdown" reached peak audience participation, underscoring The Go! Team's skill in involving every attendee in the live experience.
In summary, The Go! Team delivered an extraordinary sold-out show, boasting their longest setlist to date. Beyond celebrating the timeless appeal of Thunder, Lightning, Strike, the band showcased the contemporary relevance of their entire discography. Their ability to seamlessly engage every audience member reaffirmed their status as live performance maestros. The genius lay in The Go! Team's ability to make the complex art of captivating a crowd appear effortlessly easy.