The Garage, London
It shouldn’t be the older generation who are left to start the revolution. When Mark Stewart shrieks the opening phrase to his thirty year old anthem We Are All Prostitutes, however, it’s as furiously relevant an encapsulation of David Cameron’s Con Dem nation as it was of Thatcher’s Britain which The Pop Group’s incendiary arrival so abrasively chimed with. This reformation featuring the Bristol sired band’s original line-up finds Stewart, guitarist Gareth Sagar, bass player Dan Catsis and drummer Bruce Smith, the latter just off tour with Public Image Limited, sounding as urgent as ever. This despite Stewart’s second-night berating of the audience who in his mind aren’t nearly as up-for-it as he thinks they should be.
In truth, The Pop Group’s on-the-hoof stew of Parliament-inspired funk, skewed anti-rock guitars and Stewart’s evangelical declaiming, all undercut by coruscating FX box Dub echoes, may be more defined these days, but their full-on dancefloor subversion remains too scary to party along with in full, however huffy Stewart gets. Augmented by a second guitarist who fires in with as much attitude as his peers, The Pop Group have clearly not lost their edge. A mini megaphone is brought out for Forces of Oppression, although a still magnificent She Is Beyond Good and Evil sounds oddly friendlier than on record.
This doesn’t stop Stewart pushing himself into each song with a hellfire determination, with Sagar making an equally combative foil on piano and soprano sax. Smith and Catsis lend loping backbone to an irony free encore of the same song they opened with, stressing the point that The Pop Group’s time has arrived once more.
The Herald, September 14th 2010