The innate exuberance and clattering creativity of Ian Parton and his Go! Team make a fist in the air feel like the most natural reaction to what will be their first live gigs for almost 18 months. Originally scheduled to take place at The Haunt, the show has now been moved to Concorde 2 due to high demand.
Anyone expecting less of the tin-bashing sunshine of their previous records might care to inspect the artwork for new single ‘Semicircle’, which features rollerskating cheerleaders and kaleidoscopically-costumed percussionists, assembled Sgt Pepper-style behind the band’s name, written large in glittering pink in a gym hall. A gloomy sugar crash is not imminent for the sample-strewing six-piece with Brighton origins.
As if to dispel any lingering fears that their latest album might veer abruptly into shoegazing doom rock, the promo video for the tour features lots of clapping, horns, carnival drums and shouts of “hey”. The single goes full kitchen sink, too, with what sounds distinctly like a harrumphing steel band, parping brass, chimes and, quite possibly, a small but precise shot of endorphins for the world.
“I was trying to take the technicolour feel of a marching band into a more psychedelic place, reclaiming that sound from patriotic or sporty bullshit and harnessing its toughness and power,” says Parton, who went to Detroit for inspiration, collaborating with the Detroit Youth Choir and imagining sheet music replaced by Northern soul, Japanese indie-pop and the old-school hip-hop the Team have traditionally put to pick-and-mix use. “Brass which takes your head off, bouncy xylophones, offbeat handclaps and toms hopping in the gaps – I hoped it would be recognisably us but unlike any song we’d done before.”
Rapper Ninja and guitarist Sam Dook – vital founts of joy live – rejoin from the original line-up, together with drummer Simone Odaranile, vocalist Angela Won-Yin Mak, Julie Margat and “unexpected musicians”, including a group of Detroit teenagers on the vocals of ‘Semicircle Song’. “In the middle 8 I thought it would add a kinda interstellar cheekiness if they each introduced themselves, and their star sign. It’s also more about the space between the notes. But when the notes hit, you make them count.”
There’s always been a warmth to The Go! Team’s music – like being wrapped in multi-directional sound – and Parton has continued the “gymnasium” effect, using sousaphones, glockenspiels and steel drums, recorded from a distance to create an atmospheric sphere. It sounds like it could be a near-cousin of last year’s comeback from The Avalanches, but Parton says pushing out the boundaries of this upbeat little world of chaos and colour doesn’t make the band great escapists. “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,” he says. “It’s about reminding yourself of the good things in life.”
Concorde 2, Sunday 11th February 2018
Words by Ben Miller
Photo by Annick Wolfers