The Boomtown Rats - Roundhouse, London
Fronted by loud mouthed, charismatic singer Bob Geldof, Irish New Wave noisemakers The Boomtown Rats were one of the most successful chart friendly acts to come out of the punk era. Although rarely looked upon as a credible punk band, they seemed to have more of a connection with the general public than a lot of their peers, with their singles from that era all managing to grab Top 40 chart positions in the UK - including two chart toppers, with 1978’s ‘Rat Trap’ (knocking the Grease favourite ‘Summer Nights’ from its seven week run at the top in the process) and follow up single ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’.
The band called it a day in 1986. By this time Geldof was a worldwide household name due to his work with Band Aid. The singer has continued with his charity work to this day, receiving an honorary knighthood and two Nobel Peace Prize nominations in the process, while flexing his musical muscles over the years with a series of solo albums.
2013 sees The Rats reunited for a UK tour, including a date at London’s legendary Roundhouse, where fans were shouting for Sir Bob hours before he took to the stage. The group had pulled a predominately middle-aged crowd for their show in the capital but they seemed as excited as teenagers, roaring their approval when first song ‘I Never Loved Eva Braun’ was unleashed. The reformed combo delivered an extremely energetic, hit-crammed set that saw Geldof stalking the stage in a snakeskin suit, as gobby as ever, complaining about priests, the government and numerous other topics.
The band were on great form throughout the night but there were a couple of low points. ‘Close As You’ll Ever Be’ was just too much of a Rolling Stones pastiche for my liking and the momentum of second single (‘Mary Of The Fourth Form’) was ruined by splitting it in two, with a hideous blues section in between, leading to a gig goer near me shouting “Get on with it!”
It was still a fantastic gig though. I’ve a huge fondness for the album Tonic For The Troops so it was a real privilege to hear four songs from the collection live, including ‘She’s So Modern’, one of my favourite singles from the late 70s. Tracks from the band’s later albums also proved highlights, with the lyrics to ‘Someone’s Looking At You’ seeming more relevant today than they did when the song first appeared. 'Diamond Smiles' also sparkled but it was the appearance of their two number ones that really made the show a memorable one, as their renditions were exceptional, even though I was never a fan of '...Mondays' back in the day!
Hopefully The Rats will undertake another tour in the near future, as I'd really like to see them again. I'd suggest catching them this time round though just in case...