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In The Flesh


For better than 50 years, Detroit has given the world more great music than just about any other American city. So, how come the Go's headlining performance in L.A. couldn't draw more than 100 people? Well, the short answer is a whole lotta folks — based on their predilection for neo-retro rock 'n' roll — who would've been go-goin' to the Go don't even know about 'em.

The longer answer is that despite the Go's fashionably snake-hipped, mop-topped look and — more importantly — their considerable attention to melody and songcraft, the band didn't display the sort of sock-it-to-ya showmanship that leaves audiences spent and throbbing. Don't get me wrong: Whipping through 16 songs in an hour (plus encores), the Go were tighter than a Mother Superior. The frequent three-part harmonies were impressively accurate; the aforementioned tunesmithery was psychedelicately-tinged, pop-rock purr-fection.

Playing spot-the-influences is always dependent on exactly where your friendly trainspotter came on the scene. But there's a couple jiggers of mid-period Kinks and Pretty Things, a dash of T. Rex, the Rolling Stones, glam-rock-era Bowie, and maybe even the Four Seasons (or, more likely, the Tremeloes), and far more than four fingers' worth of the Anglophilia refracted in the Guided By Voices catalog (albeit far less beer-soaked) all shaken 'n' stirred into the Go's metaphorical sonic cocktail. The first six songs in the set mirrored the new album's opening salvo. And, reaching back to both of their previous albums for "He's Been Lying" and "You Can Get High" provided another pair of the night's highlights.

As we know, the Go's neo-classic repertoire is far, far better than probably any of their rock 'n' roll compadres from Detroit. And the Go have found a certain amount of success in licensing their material for inclusion in TV and films. This may prove to be the real key to the Go's future 'cause these days one major song placement beats 1,001 nights of sweat-drenched touring.

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