Why this gig?
I was never a huge Boomtown Rats fan. I never owned any of their albums – I think my sister might have had a couple of them. But to anyone of my age, the Boomtown Rats were an important part of the music scene as we were growing up. So when they announced that they would be playing their first London show for twenty-eight years, I really had to be there.
Patrik Fitzgerald. I vaguely recognised the name from the 80s but I couldn’t remember having heard any of his work, so I was interested to see what he was like.
He was terrible. I honestly can’t remember ever enjoying a support act less than him. He started off signing to an electronic backing tape and later switched to an acoustic guitar. His voice was terrible and his lyrics were embarrassingly trite. I would happily put some considerable effort into never seeing him perform again.
My views apparently aren’t universal though. He got a lot of applause from some of the audience.
The Rats were announced by a voice that claimed they were “the best rock and roll band in the world”. A rather ambitious claim. I’m not sure I would have agreed with that in 1978, let alone today.
They opened with “I Never Loved Eva Braun”. I thought it was a rather bizarre choice. Although it’s a pretty well-know album track, I would have thought it would be a better idea to start with a hit single. Perhaps “Like Clockwork” which they followed it with. But maybe they were rationing the singles. Eventually they played most of them (the rather obscure “Elephant’s Graveyard” was the only one I missed) and it turns out that there really aren’t as many as you might think. Half of the set was album tracks and, for me, that really emphasised the fact that the Rats were a singles band. Once you move onto the album tracks there’s a drastic drop in quality – with the sole exception of the aforementioned “Eva Braun”.
The band still obviously have passion though. If you close your eyes it’s quite possible to believe that you’re not listening to people in their late 50s and (in Geldof’s case) early 60s. The performances are top notch – although Geldof does rather milk it on the pause after “The lesson today is how to die” in “I Don’t Like Mondays”.
I said that the singles all stood out as better quality than the album tracks. There’s one exception. To support this tour they have recorded an new EP called Ratlife and for their second encore they play the lead track which is just called “The Boomtown Rats”. On the basis of this performance you should skip this EP and go directly to the Back To Boomtown compilation.
All in all, I’m glad I was there, but if they made a habit of these shows I don’t think I’d be rushing back.
The set list is on Setlist.fm.
You can buy a CD of the show from Concert Live.