Rebellion Day 3
The Boomtown Rats were Eire’s best ever popular music band…Eire’s Best Pop Band. That’s a bigger compliment that it might appear at first.
Few areas of human endeavour are more competitive than pop music. So mane people want a hit single or to be a pop star: so few get there.
Since it is so competitive you have to be single-minded to get there. And Bob Geldof embodies single-mindedness,
The Boomtown Rats were pop in the way that other brilliant tunesmiths of the punk/new wave era were: XTC, Squeeze and even Elvis Costello.
But the Rats were from Eire and Eire didn’t have pop bands…especially not pop bands with international appeal. That makes them really significant in Ireland’s culture. They broke with the past and the consensus: that makes them revolutionaries.
They were cranked up on Dr Feelgood and dug deeper back into the Blues of John Lee Hooker…and both are clearly heard in their set in a Blaclpool ballroom full of 40 years of punk survivors.
They also drew from Thin Lizzy’s pop smarts…Van Morrison and Springsteen’s late 20th Century troubadour style…the best of glam rock’s stomping beat in a ballroom blitz. And the swagger of Jagger.
Beyond Ireland that May not have seen remarkable…yet in Ireland it was transgressive and daring. Naturally being single-minded might lose you admirers as it wins you fans…and that is for another time.
The band were tight and punchy and went down surprisingly well for a band that don’t fit comfortably into punk history.
She’s So Modern launched a set preceded by Hugh Cornwall, half of whose really great set was comprised of Stranglers’ songs. The Rats then charged through hits including: Like Clockwork, Someone’s Looking At You, I Don’t Like Mondays (which featured a raucous singalong by the massed choir assorted generations of punks and skins and crusties! It also featured a literally heart-stopping moment in pop music terms: the band standing still and silent poised to continue, teasing the crowd..in control if the crowd…but only by the slightest thread!). Mary of the Fourth Form was also included before the set concluded with Looking After Number One and Rat Trap.
Can any other Irish pop band pull as many original songs out of their back catalogue and deliver them with conviction and intensity?
Being Bob and the Rats this was a show….the final burst was a pre-recorded chant of The Boomtown Rats over a pulsing dance-beat…very AC/DC meets X-Factor…perhaps ironic!
If the band got cheers they also got the loudest boos of the festival: Geldof yelled mid-set: we are the Boomtown Rats…we are Mega!…you (the audience) are dressed an in black uniform of t-shirts with shit bands written on them….I am wearing a fuck-off suit of fake snakeskin!
It was perhaps irony…yet what other performer would dare such an outburst at the audience?
In 1977 the Rats screamed that Ireland could be changed…more doubted them than believed them….40 years later it is clear that Ireland has changed…..beyond imagining….it appears the Geldof and the Rats were right after all!
Goldblade…to me they are the very essence of what punk rock means in 2015: vibrant….relevant…funny…..really funny, yet capable of making the most serious points….serious music, serious fun, a seriously positive force. Brilliant in an afternoon ballroom whose history singer (and punk historian) John Robb recounts as he cavorts in a manner that would have the ballroom proprietors turning in their elegantly constructed graves.
They reminded me of a point so elegantly stated yesterday by Joolz Denby: young people have no idea how much fun it was going on marches…you didn’t feel like people were going to change their ways or policies just because you were marching…yet you were having a laugh and felt good and that you were at least trying,
Youth, youth, youth….wasted on most of us….Yet this dynamic four-piece full of energy and yelling, screaming, guitar-shredding passion and decent tunes draw ing from decades of (punk….think about it!) and other forms of rebel rock,
Louise Distra on the big stage as part of a three-piece band…no compromise…connecting with the spirit of Patti Smith as well as Riot Grrl rockers,
Barry Cain….great journalist and chronicler of the early punk scene…and one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the magnificent Radiators from Space…recalling when NME sold 250,000 copies weekly, and later when Smash Hits sold a million every fortnight! Astonishingly influential!
Steve Drewett from the Newtown Neurotics rocked the acoustic stage…and was superbly assisted by his daughter. She was fantastic and it was quite a thing to hear a young person who might be half the legal voting age, urging the old punk rockers to vote, take hope and change the world!
The Buzzcocks were majestic…..so many bright, brilliant and energetic songs….how many bands have so many singles of that calibre? It fills me with joy every time I see them! Funny to think that when they came to Dublin in the first rush of ounk that the authorities forced them to play practically with no amplification!
For some…noise annoys…for some of us noise is truly inspiring. What a day..what music…what memories!