The Rakes: Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth, Sunday September 25
Pass the aspirin as NME teams up with the new sound of Drunk Britain
“Thisisforalltheintellectualstudentsnotthatyouhaveto beintellectualtobeastudentoranyfinglookatJamie hewasastudentbutheneverreadabookinhislifeand…”
Everybody’s do-oing a brand new dance now. C’mon Portsmouth, do the Rakesy-Alan! It’s just a jittery elbow to the left, then a wobbly hand-clench to the right! A short burst of pointy knee-bending and noooow… RIDE THAT INVISIBLE OSTRICH! Go on, RIDE IT! RIDE IT LIKE YOUR MOMMA! YEEE-HAA!
“Thisone’sforallyoupeoplewhohavetogetuptomorrow morningandgotoworkaftertonightwhichisSundaylikeI usedtohavetobutIdon’tanymore’causeI’minabandnow…”
Club NME On Tour, supported by Topman, hits the Wedgewood Rooms like a blast of weapons-grade amphetamine to the brain. Hammering out of the blocks like a skinny punk Linford Christie, boggle-eyed indie whippet Alan Donohoe babbles his between-song banter in the strangulated whine of a rabid Cockney chipmunk, dances like Ian Curtis auditioning for Madness on PCP and rollocks through all his alcoholic glory-tunes at triple speed. It’s as if The Rakes can smell the beer fermenting backstage and can’t get to it fast enough.
All part of the Rakesian philosophy of course: play fast, die young, leave a hideously hungover corpse. No Pete-style druggo drop-outs these – instead they teeter on the thin white line between hedonism and respectability, loosening their work-ties at 5pm just far enough to pour 18 pints and a gram of MaDMAn down their necks, oblivious to the fact that, come 7am the next day, they’ll be trying to shave their eyebrow with their toothbrush. Again.
It’s the life lived by any self-respecting wage slave with a fire in their loins and a short stack of disposable income in their pocket, and it’s why The Rakes speak to modern Britain so directly. You’ve only to clock them racing onstage to see their bloke-in-the-pub everyman kudos – Alan, the epileptic provincial barman made good; bassist Jamie Hornsmith, the pretty vacant Quadrophenia extra; Lasse Petersen, the Scandinavian underwear model on drums; and Matthew Swinnerton, by night a lady-dazzling, lizard-sex guitar god re-Wire-ing Bruce Gilbert’s tangled electrics, by day the kind of bloke you’d expect to be rubber-stamping your passport application. They’re your colleagues and mine, except they’ve made the rapid-pulse spike-pop album of the year (‘Capture/Release’) about all of our frustrations and celebrations, our wild nights touring the local happy hours and our regret-filled mornings waking up next to Lisa Riley. Which is why The Rakes have become the figureheads of a new urban pop realism (see also: Good Shoes, Duels, Black Wire, The Young Knives) and why the reception of tonight’s special effects – the lightsabre glow-poles! The screen saying ‘THE RAKES’! – make your average Arctic Monkeys gig look about as ecstatic as a Papal funeral.
Indeed, tonight The Rakes storm through an entire lost weekend in just under 45 minutes. From the dark anticipation of nightly horrors to come that is ‘Terror!’
– Alan’s nightmare vision of a haunted hotel where axe-wielding bass guitars stalk the corridors and Albert Hammond Jr is being genitally tortured with pliers – we lurch blindly into the urban whirlpool of ‘Retreat’, all ragged Strokesy jerkiness, the fatalistic lure of the special on Jägermeister and Alan’s wired impression of a spooked-out Scooby-Doo. The rest is a blur – we can remember some gang-chanting Darwinist mob rule during ‘We Are All Animals’, everything going a bit tired and emotional for ‘Binary Love’ and an angry altercation over the price of chips during the ska-laced ‘Violent’. The next thing we know we’ve just woken UP, everything is FUCKED, ‘The Guilt’ is battering on our cranium with guitars made of sheet metal and ‘22 Grand Job’ looms ever closer with its desperate, ever-loosening grip on rat-race normality. And then, quicker than you can hit the ‘snooze’ button and glug down some Alka-Seltzer, they’re gone, off for a few swift halves before racing off to Brighton –
work, work, work, glug, bus, sleep…
“We’ve got this thing called the Gulf Tour Syndrome,” says Alan when NME catches up with The Rakes on their tourbus outside Brighton Concorde 2 the next day, “where lack of sleep, too much drink, not enough food and lack of privacy makes you go a bit mad and lose the plot a bit. After a while, you realise you can’t do that forever. So what we’re gonna do is work on new material… and then get drunk, do loads of drugs and shag models.”
Cans of un-spiked Coca-Cola. Lasse hunched in a corner reading The Quick-Fix Hangover Detox (a gift from the band’s manager, along with a family-sized bottle of Smirnoff). Not exactly the Heineken-drenched Sodom & Gomorrah your self-confessed “drinking fight music” would suggest, lads?
“Sometimes we meet, like, real geezers going, ‘Ah yeah, The Rakes! ‘Ave some beers later!’,” says Alan. “Yeah, I will have some beers – but with my girlfriend, while we talk about films.”
No, right now The Rock is going down in the venue, where The Five O’Clock Heroes are wowing Brighton with an approximation of what The Strokes would sound like if they wrote funky music for Shuttleworth’s Circus (a bit The Jam, a bit Hot Hot Heat, a bit clown’s-car-falling-apart) while Louis XIV do their shades-at-night, big-bollocked-riff glam thing in full waistcoats-and-all tweed suits with just the right amount of sex and smouldering (they pull by far the most girls later, despite the fact they’re all approaching middle age and look like eyeliner’d hod-carriers). The Rakes, meanwhile, are less frenzied tonight, allowing the werewolf wailings and stadium handclaps of B-sides ‘Something Clicked And I Fell Off The Edge’ and ‘Ausland Mission’ to shine alongside the Blur-pop stylings of ‘Work, Work, Work (Pub, Club, Sleep)’ and the rampage of ‘Strasbourg’ – Alan lost in a speed-freak of nervous energy, a ball of lightning in skinny jeans.