The Go! Team, The Grates, Smoosh

Bill Cummings 07/03/2006

If I could have chosen a venue for my 26th birthday, this would be it: the Cardiff Coal Exchange. Well, actually it would be a beach somewhere in Jamaica but that's beside the point. The Exchange has an atmosphere quite unlike any other venue in South Wales, like a large town hall: its ye olde world wood fittings and large stage add to an airy regal atmosphere that you just don't get in the aircraft hanger of the CIA, or the pillar obstructed view of the Cardiff Barfly. Down to tonight's acts: glossing over Canadian two piece Smoosh who are interesting enough in a Hanson meets electro indie type of way, but the over riding feeling for me, is that they're a couple of pretty girls who have been pushed up to a level way beyond their current means. And onto Australian girl group The Grates who are enjoyable in a garage rock who have just eaten too many E numbers type way, but lack the discernable edge or songs of say the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

And to the main event, The Go! Team. Not for a long time have I witnessed an act so in love with the art of playing music live. Whatever genre you seek to place them in they will seek to blow raspberries at you with every attempt to cram their sound into some lazy pigeon hole. The best I can come up with is they are some kind of joyous psychedelic fusion of rock-pop-soul-motown- and dance. But that's not the half of it, wheeling away this random band of 70s attired misfits (Sam Dook on guitar, Chi on drums, Kaori on guitar, wind and keys, Jamie Bell on bass, and band leader Ian P on electric guitar and fucked up harmonica) make a sound that not only delights, but gets the feet moving and brings a big smile to every single face in the crowd. Then there's frontlady extraordinaire Ninja, part dance instructor, part cheerleader, part musician, part rapper, part singer, Ninja's movements are infectious: during one interlude she conducts the crowd in a series of chants, then later on performs a series of dance moves from across the world from the Ninja Kick to the Russian rusky.

The Team blast through walls of fuzz, dancing through multi-coloured melodies that are often so gloriously realised live that I often have to stop to catch my breath. Even new unheralded sunshine infused instrumentals are greeted with glee by a crowd that drinks in the Go! Team experience. Waves of feet and arms swathe forward by the end in one big sweaty mess of writhing bodies, each infectious beat causing an eruption of joyous dancing. The marvellous waves of melody that speed forth from “Huddle Formation” are like rainbows shooting across the sky. Stupendous closer “Ladyflash” is the point where the Jackson 5 meets Salt and Pepper and does a dance with Bently Rhythm Ace and a snaking violin line. Indeed its “yeah yeah yeah” melodies are complimented by a skit from Ninja that sums up the Go!Team live “We came here to rock the microphone”, and they did indeed.