BOOMTOWN RATS, NEWCASTLE ACADEMY 19/10/14
I received two sterling pieces of advice re: reviewing the Boomtown Rats, with the second of these being screamed into my ear during the encores by a woman I know who is a hairdresser for dogs.
The first piece of advice was ‘review the band, not the man’, which, to be honest, had me well knackered, as I was planning on kicking this off with a lengthy rumination about exactly why so many people think Bob Geldof is a massive, massive bell-end. It’s not a view I hold personally, but it is one that’s held by many. I have a theory that the qualities he has that peeve the public – arrogance, outspokenness, lack of humility and just generally being a big old gobshite – are the very same qualities that make for a really good frontman in a rock band. See also Bono, and to a lesser extent these days, Jagger, but one strongly suspects that an hour in Bob’s company would be more enjoyable than hanging out with either of them two.
But I digress. I sat down to review a gig, not to expand on the basic equation of ‘great lead singer = bitofacock’, so here’s away. It starts off with dimmed lights and old newsreel footage on a big screen, mad-haired scientists with posh voices banging on about how rats will destroy mankind, or something. And then they’re on, lights blazing and kicking straight into…errr, one I don’t actually know, for I must confess that my knowledge of the Boomtown Rats’ back catalogue is hazy at best; if it didn’t get played down the West End Boys Club weekly disco in Fenham circa 78-80, then I’ve got no fucking idea, pal.
I reckon I know about eight Rats songs; the one about that lass going akka with a gun in America, the one about that other lass hanging herself off a chandelier, the one about people looking at you, the reggae-tinged one about bananas or something, the really frantic one that starts ’yatta-datta-da!’, the one about the underage schoolgirl, the one about clocks and the dead, dead good one that sounds like a bang-on-the-money Bruce Springsteen pastiche, and I’m delighted to say that they played all of these. And much more, it’s just that I have no idea what the ‘much more’ actually was, but what I will say is that Bob Geldof blows a proper mean harp on several songs, which was something of a surprise to me. Before they collided with the New Wave, the Rats were an R’n’B outfit, and when Bob gets the harmonica out and starts righteously honking it over a twelve-bar tune, we get a vivid glimpse of what the Rats’ former incarnation must have been like.
Oh aye, must mention the suit. Mr Geldof is currently sporting a somewhat garish faux snakeskin suit on stage, and at one point in the gig, he does a little spiel about how it’s a really fucking cool bit of clobber, a totally rock’n’roll whistle that makes its owner one of the most desirable men on the planet etc etc. I beg to differ, like; in all of my time on this earth, I have only ever met one man rockin’ the faux snakeskin look, and he was wearing a shirt so downright unpleasant and tacky that I felt driven to comment on his sartorial inelegance. That man was Cliff Richard, and I rest my case re: the wearing of faux snakeskin.
I almost forgot the second piece of advice I got. It was ‘If you don’t write a great review, I’m going to kick your fucking heed in!’ - Hoo man, pet, all of my reviews are great, it’s just that sometimes I enjoy the band I’m writing about more than others, and if I was in the business of marking gigs out of ten in terms of my personal enjoyment, then the most I could give tonight would be a solid seven. Please don’t chin me…
Ettrick Skotty Scott.