Radio 4 : London 93 Feet East
Incendiary NYC punk-funkers get the party started ....eventually...
You never could dance to punk-funk, could you?
Sure, here at NME Towers we spent enough time banging on about how guitar bands were reclaiming the dancefloor from the faceless superclub bores,
but did you ever try busting a groove to them? Impossible!
All those stop-start rhythms and demented basslines only ever made you feel like you’d gone ten rounds of Twister with Ian Curtis, while significantly increasing the risk of taking someone’s eye out.
New York’s [a]Radio 4[/a] know it better than anyone – leading lights of the yelpin’, jerkin’, punk-funkin’ revival that caused
us to get dizzy and tangled a couple of years ago, they’re
back with a new record that eschews the yelping-randomly-over-choppy-guitars sound in favour of recreating a sparkly Haçienda-house love-in. It’s packed with beats and grooves, but has no fear in flouting punk-funk’s notoriously strict
Tonight we’re treated to several new tracks – like the piano-pumping haze of new single ‘Party Crashers’, the
[a]New Order[/a]-aping ‘Absolute Affirmation’ and the tumbling-
bass electro of ‘Transmission’. OK, so it’s not exactly the
sound of the future (it is, in fact, the sound of 1988, dusted down, slapped around a bit and told to wipe that stupid
gurn off its face) but with dance music keeled over in the corner begging for some aspirin, it’s a revival that couldn’t
be more timely.
The main problem, though, is encouraging the crowd to shake along. Perhaps it’s the terrible sound that drowns out the atmosphere, or perhaps it’s that east London audiences need written permission to enjoy themselves. Who knows, but it takes an age for the band to work up the fever they need for these songs to make sense. Luckily, it’s worth the wait, and a cruise through the, erm, ‘hits’ transforms the crowd from chattering bystanders into sweat-clogged hedonists in the space of (literally) a few seconds. ‘Eyes Wide Open’ explodes while percussionist PJ O’Connor rallies the crowd by handclapping in-between sterling bashes of the bongos (bongos! How can you not love a band with bongos?!). Then ‘Dance To The Underground’ and a swift encore blast through ‘New Disco’ sends the front row into spasms, hinting that once people have got their ears around the new songs, it’ll be a different kind of party next time they arrive on our shores: one where NME can bust some moves without the fear of ending the night in the back of a police van.