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Review: Boomtown Rats at 02 Academy Newcastle

The faux-snakeskin suit was brought out of retirement as Bob Geldof and his bandmates turned back the clock at the 02 Academy

The Boomtown Rats
The Boomtown Rats

The "mega" faux-snakeskin suit has been dusted off. The associated leather trousers have had a wipe down... and the Boomtown Rats were officially back on the road and rocking. Even on Mondays.

It was only as the first chords were struck at the packed out O2 Academy gig that I realised this was going to be the first time I’d seen The Rats proper in the flesh. Having broken my live gig duck with Adam Ant in 1982 when the Rats were coming to the end of their chart-topping period and Band Aid was on the horizon, I’ve only ever seen Bob Geldof perform songs from the Boomtown back catalogue as part of his sporadic solo shows... or in front of thousands of people at Live 8.

And what a revelation his snakeskin stage presence was. News had reached me that the lead singer of the Irish four-piece was suffering from a rotten cough and was on antibiotics, so I went along entirely ready to make allowances for the post punk purveyor, who has a sideline in having a crack at the world’s problems.

No allowances were required. The 62-year-old threw himself into every one of the Rats’ classics to the delight of the silver-sprinkled bouncing crowd, while punctuating them with the kind of fiery, foul-mouthed banter you would expect.

“If we wrote these songs yesterday, we wouldn’t change a word,” he said, speaking of tracks like Someone’s Looking At You; Banana Republic, which got the band banned from playing in their native Ireland; Rat Trap; and of course, I Don’t Like Mondays, which gets my neck hairs up every time.

The band were as tight as Bob’s trousers used to be (I’ve seen the archive clips on youtube) and are clearly enjoying the reunion experience. “We loved playing here 30 years ago and we’ve loved playing here tonight,” said Sir Bob to a crowd offering the same sentiment right back at him.


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