From Punk to Pink: Irish filth and fury rock off their germs.
Because of their singer’s humanitarian respectability and knighthood, many tend to forget how artfully visceral THE BOOMTOWN RATS could be and that there was more to the group than Bob Geldof’s manic front: here’s why this CD/DVD combo comes as a treasured document of its era. The quintet’s rawness was a short, passing phase, as suggested by “Banana Republic” and “House On Fire” from 1980 and 1980, where the players’ prancing gets in the way of a proper lip-syncing, but they’re only the visual bonuses, while the March 1978’s performance both bares the band’s nerve and coats it in a well-rehearsed theatricality. It’s quite symbolic, then, that Geldof, knowing the concert’s to be televised, zips up his trousers in front of the audience to make it all tight and almost indecent, yet incandescent, too.
There’s a very camera-conscious action going on, the closer “Lookin’ After No. 1” conjuring up frantic, frenzied, caricature animation, as the staged pandemonium breaks loose and, previously indifferent, studio spectators go wild roused by Bob’s jerking gestures. Geldof gets off the leash with such an intimacy from the start, once “Close As You’ll Ever Be” brings about compulsive leaps and bounds from a Jagger school of move. The disregard for the rhythm, though, is just for the show, because the singing is on the money – even after the vocalist falls on the drums riser – and Garry Robert’s Keefy guitar cuts it right. The ensemble deliver all but one tracks from their self-titled debut and at the same time look into the future as far as the following year to present the hectic version of “It’s All The Rage” and go for the rock cabaret with another B-side, “Do The Rat,” which justifies Johnnie Fingers’ striped suit. His keyboards also add a retro touch to “Neon Heart” as if to contrast the six-string escapades of Gerry Cott whose RAMONES style gets picked up with a “Gabba-gabba what?” question preceding the bluesy harmonica-enhanced “(She’s Gonna) Do You In” and the choruses of “Strange” – anthemic, though sharp.
That’s how it also goes for the then just-released “She’s So Modern” single from the yet-to-be-out “A Tonic For The Troops” LP proving to be infectious even for those punters who’d hardly heard it before, albeit “Don’t Believe What You Read” from the same album arrives too faux punky to get its hooks across leaving it for “Mary Of The 4th Form” to shake and rattle the crowd. The band were still rock ‘n’ roll in 1978, and the replica of the tour documentation included in the package testifies to that transitional time before Bob The Gob hogged it in search for sainthood.