I suppose if I had to go to a Geldof concert, which I finally did tonight after some half hearted attempts in the distant past, then the least that could happen would be three Rats on stage.
Fortunately, the day before I had nabbed a couple of front row seats right in the middle of the stage. My only fear was it may be a little too close for comfort. Cadogan Hall is possibly the most pristine venue I have ever watched a rock 'n' roll show at, only seeing Pulp at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane back in 1994 came close. In my combat trousers, trainer and sweatshirt I feel very underdressed as all the staff were immaculately turned out and incredibly polite, a million miles away from the rude obnoxious security staff you often encounter at gigs. Even the bouncer who threw one enthusiatic fan off stage was very polite about it!
For the most part, the concert was a lot of Geldof solo material. The best live songs were not just the Rats songs, but some of the songs off the last couple of solo albums which was a bit of a surprise for me.
Of the Sex Age & Death songs, Mudslide and One for Me sounded far better live and the awesome Scream in Vain more than lived up to expectations. Scream in Vain had such a long rambling introduction that I was able to get to a distant bar and bring back a couple of beers as they started to play it.
Other highlights were the superb Systematic Six Pack and a top notch Here's To You dedicated to his mates in the audience. The Great Song of Indifference bookended the gig to great effect. I have to confess that
sat in my comfy front and centre seat with a couple of beers, the remainder of the solo material washed over me, leaving me distracted enough to look around and see the venue was more or less sold out.
Now I was mainly there for the older material which took a little while to come. I had never heard When The Night Comes live and understandably it did differ from the studio version, particularly the guitar solo. Johnny Turnbull's electric and Vince Loveday's mandolin (well I think it was a mandolin) made the song sound different, and it's fair to say that Geldof didn't quite hold the melody as well as he could. However it was good to hear this song aired again. Banana Republic had a long rambling introduction referring to when the Rats played Leixlip and Geldof's damning of the Irish establishment. This was a really great rendition to the point when the indulgent play off took things down a little. Next up was I Don't Like Mondays which sounded like it had passed its sell by date. When people are laughing at the pause when the lesson today is how to die, you sense no one really needs to hear it again.
But the highlight of the evening was close at hand. Suddenly Gerry Cott appeared on stage. No one saw him walk on, he simply materialised. Even Geldof seemed unaware he was stood right behind him as he was introducing him. They did Mary of The Fourth Form followed by Joey's On The Street Again and then Rat Trap. This was fifteen to twenty minutes of pure magic, which brought the audience to its collective feet and was worth the price of the admission on its own. Pete Briquette, who cooly ambled around the stage all evening, looked delighted to have his old friend back on stage with him, and the bon homie with Geldof suggested that past differences have been forgotten.
Had Geldof and co left it at that, no one could have complained, but they came out for a couple of encores. They started the encore with the bland Silly Pretty Thing, but great rendidtions of Diamond Smiles, Here's To You and finally The Great Song of Indifference when the whole band came to the front of the stage rounded off the evening superbly.
When all is said and done it was a good show and I'm really glad I went despite certain reservations on seeing Geldof solo. For Geldof, with the audience approaching the capacity of 900, this more or less fulfilled his ambition of playing a 2,000 seat venue and been able to walk home and sleep in his own bed.
Geldof should consider getting people standing up to watch him play in a more intimate venue like The 100 Club. Oh and of course, he should get Garrick and Simon to tag along next time and play a few more Rats songs. Flying Fingers over from Japan may be too much to expect.