MEAN FIDDLER, LONDON: 10/08/05
These days, when every two-bit guitar group emerging from inner-city wastelands feels briefly exciting and essential, it takes a truly special group to really mean something to the people, to stand out and speak for the disenchanted. Witty and cerebral, The Rakes, four skinny guys from London who decided to vent their frustration with working life into heavy drinking and random shagging (judging by the lyrical content of debut album ‘Capture/Release’) before writing songs about it all, are one of those bands. On-stage tonight at their biggest London show yet, lead singer Alan Donohoe jerks and throws shapes like a P.E.-supply teacher Ian Curtis. It’s the coolest un-cool thing this reviewer has seen in a while. If the ‘capture’ of their album title comes in an expert, often bitingly satirical articulation of the dissatisfaction with the 9 to 5 lifestyle and all the dreams and frustration associated with it (a subject well addressed by everyone from The Jam to Dizzee Rascal), then the ‘release’ is in the form of the communal catharsis displayed tonight. The insistent post-Franz guitar scratches of ‘Retreat’ brings the set alive three songs in, and from then on, despite a muddy sound, The Rakes’ ramshackle performance speaks to each and every one of us: look at them, they formed a band. It’s that easy. ’22 Grand Job’ is still the vital, sneering and slightly bitter rant against the city folk that it was on it’s release a year ago, and to encore with ‘Strasbourg’, with it’s beautiful line “On TV our friends smashed cement/And pulled down the bastards monuments/I went outside for a cigarette/I could see things I had tried to forget”, reminds us that, though it’s hard, we can change things, and take chances in life we never even knew existed.
As Alan jumps into the crowd a girl at the back repeatedly shouts “I love them!” Anyone who’s ever lost their job, their wallet (while drunk), or feels like they could lose their soul: listen to The Rakes.
The Rakes’ debut album ‘Capture/Release’ is out now!