The Raveonettes - Manchester Ruby Lounge
“It goes something like ...”
If you know The Raveonettes, you know the line. If you know the line, you know what comes next. And if you know that, well ... me and you, we’re blessed souls indeed. As overdriven waves of mutilation go, it takes no prisoners. The re-grouped and re-energised duo give us their fiery calling card as their parting shot and, as Christmas gifts go, it takes some beating. The irony being, of course, that Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo are in town to promote new album ‘In and Out of Control’, an absolute career best of some magnitude. But hey, ‘Attack of the Ghost Riders’ on a plate? With all the trimmings? Serve it up.
It’s been a couple of years since preceding album ‘LustLustLust’ saw Sune and Sharin get altogether more monochrome than even they’d attempted previously. Manchester hasn’t forgotten them, happy to report, and the die-hards have braved the freeze. The Ruby Lounge is packed and laced with goodwill. Opener ‘Gone Forever’ sets the place all of a quiver. If you inwardly groan because that’s the new album’s high spot in the bag from the off, it’s a sign of the growing immensity of the back catalogue that the next hour and a quarter is riveting and essential. They edit the repertoire with guile. The newies chime : ‘Heart of Stone’ with its nod to ‘Money for Nothing’ (is it just me?), ‘Bang!’ (“You’re so vicious, baby ...” – is that a New York lyric or what?) and the razor blade bonhomie of ‘Boys Who Rape Should be Destroyed’ – all connect. Credit to the venue, for once. Setting itself up as the best sound system in town, The Raveonettes test it to the limit, not least during the oscillating feedback squall that acts as intro. They sound nothing less than beautiful all night. The able young men on bass and drums (Sharin is back on guitar), this years’s touring band, show the requisite chops.
The great Danes dip into the back catalogue in unpredictable and delightful ways. I had ‘Somewhere in Texas’ and ‘That Great Love Sound’ on my dance card; we get neither, but two hoots, you know? ‘Love in a Trashcan’ is as sprightly as it ever was, frisks you for your wallet while it whispers sweet nothings in your ear. ‘Dead Sound’ is the loveliest bludgeoning. ‘Black Satin’ is delicate, disarming, the sweetest flavour of dreamlike. But towards the end with Sune really into it and all over the place, and Sharin substituting glacial for smiley, they find seventh, eighth gear. ‘Aly, Walk With Me’ is planetary, levitation, other worlds, tie me down. Sune goes off on one and we follow like lemmings and I swear, by god, if the way they all as one slip out of his ‘solo’ and back into the trik-trak of the main riff isn’t the most elegiac, enervating piece of band performance I can remember. Timing? You betcha. Surely afterwards they’re going: “Whoa – how the f*** did we land that one?”
Encores burn. Sune looks genuinely thrilled and claps in appreciation. Someone calls for “the Christmas one. “ Sune, stripey t-shirt, tousled mop, all very Jim Reid circa 1988, tosses it about. Sharin, Cleopatra bob in this incarnation but of the very blondest kind, laughs, not so sure. “We’ve not played it in a year !” Brief chat and they give it a go and of course it sounds like they’ve been practising it all month. ‘Attack of the Ghost Riders’ melts the walls and they’re gone. Hey, what a joy to have them back. If the proliferation of all too many creepy little subsets of week-kneed indie has made you long for when men and women picked up guitars because they wanted to make the gutters shine and the backstreets howl, take note. The Raveonettes, whose love of the kind of rock ‘n’ roll that made America in the 50s shudder with youthful promise and animal intent, are as on it as they ever were. Side-stepping their almost dogmatic approach of yore in favour of releasing their uncommon skill with a pop song, that's their smartest move yet. Simply by sticking around they make the world – mine, yours, all of them - seem that little bit less shit.