“Good evening, we’re Radio 4 and we’re from New York”. Now that’s how you start a show: Twin towers, zero tolerance and smoking bans may come and go, but New York will always be a lodestone for those of us who really love our music on the edge, and right now, few bands are more New York than Radio 4.
Radio 4 are apparently able to condense everyone from The Velvet Underground to Blondie and from The Tom Tom Club to Larry Levan into a sonic stew that could not be more vital and sound more alive than it does now.
Relocated to east London on a sticky Wednesday night, Radio 4, like The LCD Soundsystem earlier this year, arrive on a wave of hype and expectation, and like their sometime producers, deliver in spades. All dressed in immaculate weather defying grey and black suits they look the part and sure as hell sound it too. An explosion of drums and percussion provide the backbone, powering the band forward, whilst the bassist delivers a primal throb that has the crowded club bouncing and leaping around with abandon.
Whilst the rhythm section may keep us dancing, the guitars and vocals provide the edge. Taut and angular and with a hefty nod towards their predecessors The Gang of Four, A Certain Ratio and Wire, the guitarists in the band keep things highly strung to the point of the whole thing sounding like it’s on the edge of destruction.
Mixing up tracks from their last album Gotham with more unfamiliar material from their forthcoming LP Stealing Of A Nation, everything gets a rapturous reception from the crowd. The best, however, is saved for last, as the show draws to a close we finally get an extended work out of the dancefloor anthem Dance To The Underground; a percussive tour de force that has the packed club roaring with approval.
An encore with the musical call to arms of New Disco leaves us breathless but wanting more. Luckily they will be back later this year to launch the new album, and if you missed out this time I suggest that you beg, steal or borrow to get yourself a ticket.