The lads slammed the songs down very effectively, but with only one original member on stage (and he obviously significantly older than the rest of 'em) I have to say it was ever so slightly like watching a covers band.
The Gang Of Four has had umpteen line-ups over the years (I've seen a good few of them myself) but they've always had that essential to-and-fro between Andy Gill and Jon King. Without that, the band can't help but look a bit like the Gang-Of-One-Plus-Three.
It occurred to me that the last time I saw the Gang Of Four, it was in Heaven (capacity 1,850). The time before that, on the main stage of the Offset Festival (capacity - oh, about 20,000 - it was a big field, anyway). The time before that, the original line-up at the Brixton Academy (capacity 4,921).
Last night - Oslo (capacity 375).
I'm a fan of small gigs, and it was certainly good to hear Gang Of Four songs being blasted out in such a small space. But the scores on the doors do seem to head downwards every time someone leaves the band…
By the way, Oslo isn't a bad venue. It's another of those new London rock 'n' roll holes that opened up recently to a deafening silence from all those people who are so quick to make a fuss every time a venue closes down.
As I've remarked before, I reckon the number of live music venues in London stays pretty constant over time - they just come and go. In the past, this was generally regarded as the natural order of things. It's only recently that the closure of a venue is accompanied by a great wailing and gnashing of teeth, and hand-staple-forehead assertions that rock 'n' roll in London is dead, d'you hear me, DEAD!
Then a new venue opens up. Everybody studiously looks the other way and pretends it isn't happening. What's that all about?
Anyway. Oslo. Not bad, a bit neat and clean at present, but I'm sure it'll acquire the traditional London venue scruffiness in time. Handy for Hackney Central station (or, last night, the rail replacement bus stop over the road, blast 'em). Absurdly early curfew (9.30, for fuck's sake, for no apparent reason - I'm sure Las Kellies didn't finish so early when I saw them at the venue a while back.)
The early doors, and the closure of the S-Bahn to Hackney, meant that I missed the opening band, which was a shame because it was LoneLady, who I've been trying to see live for ages. I think she must've come on stage at about tea time.
But there will be other gigs…possibly even other Gang Of Four gigs, although I can't help wondering if Andy Gill's next move will be to franchise the brand name out to a completely new bunch of musos.
While we're at it… this was my previous Gang Of Four experience - in Heaven, with John And Jehn supporting. Whatever happened to those guys, eh? They could've gone places if they'd just made the band a bit darker, a bit more post-punky, perhaps got an all-female line-up...
And here's my 2005 review of the original Go4 line-up at Brixton Academy, starring Hugo Burnham on drums and Dave Allen on bass. Shriekback connections a-go-go in there too, of course.
Scroll down to the third review - past the The Dresden Dolls and Noblesse Oblige and Devilish Presley. Crumbs, weren't my reviews long in those days!