Angel Air 2014
Pub rock veterans go underground to restore their smirk with a Nordic cool.
One of the least famous names on the original Stiff Records roster, this ensemble were perhaps one of its most accomplished acts. Before forming a band of his own, Sean Tyla had honed his composer skills in DUCKS DELUXE and HELP YOURSELF, so the GANG’s workmanlike approach felt like a relief from both the ’70s sophistication and nascent punk. Now, though, there’s a belligerence to the resurrected group’s glitterball, what with the introduction into the line-up of bassist John McCoy whose anchoring gives an additional weight to the two gloriously groovy numbers that bookend the show: “Cannons Of The Boogie Night” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre Boogie.” The latter, a B-side of the collective’s debut ’45 – its booming reverse, “Styrofoam,” also gets a wild airing here – is a clear indication of the quintet’s intent to engage their old fans: therefore, not a trace of 2013’s “Stereo Tactics” is in sight, while a half of the concert is comprised of more than a half of 1977’s “Yachtless” – deliberately so.
It takes a couple of licks to kick “The Young Lords” into gear, its effervescent chorus and infectious riff courtesy of Bruce Irvine stripping the years off the players, whose experience, on the other hand, spills into the lyrical fatigue of “Moonlight Ambulance” and the grim blues wail under the “Speedball Morning” dramatic rocking. The youthful recklessness and seasoned jive come together in the organ-abetted multi-layered swirl offered by “Suicide Jockey” that spreads its funk beyond the 7-minute mark, as well as romantic weariness which fills the piano-rippled country roll of “New York Sun” before “Hurricane” underscores the storm that’s going on the bar stage – a fitting environment for the Brit pub rockers. It’s a dewy-eyed document of their staunch stance showing a fire still burns there.