The Rifles – Jack Rocks At The Garage, London, September 12
The east London mods deliver nuance and energy to a rabid crowd of loyal fans
“It’s been about 10 years since we’ve been here,” Rifles frontman Joel Stoker tells the sold-out audience at the 600-capacity Garage in north London, a crowd so macho it includes one bloke dividing his attention between the band, a drink and highlights of this evening’s Anthony Joshua Vs Gary Cornish boxing match on his phone.
Actually, the guitar-pop four-piece from east London, who hit pay dirt with their infectious 2006 album ‘No Love Lost’, aren’t quite the tub-thumping lad rockers some claim them to be. From the buoyant jangle of ‘Winter Calls’ on 2009 LP ‘Great Escape’ to the acoustic breakdown in the middle of ‘Under And Over’ on 2014’s ‘None The Wiser’, they’re more nuanced than that – though you’d be forgiven for forgetting this when faced with the chanting, blokey crowd that spills into the Garage.
Paul Weller haircuts, gingham shirts and Fred Perry abound and it’s tempting to imagine what Sleaford Mods frontman Jason Williamson, who’s brilliantly acid-tongued in his loathing of weekend mods, would make of this Saturday night rabble. Yet there’s no denying the enthusiasm in the room: The Rifles don’t play fan favourite ‘Romeo And Julie’ until the end, but every brief gap between songs is punctuated by punters bellowing its “woah woah woahhh” chorus.
There’s a new album due in 2016 but Stoker promises the band will stick to their well-loved older songs, and indeed tonight’s set draws heavily on the recently re-released ‘No Love Lost’. The show is essentially one long, energetic indie-pop song, a lean and well-polished onslaught that leaves little time for onstage chat, with measured fluctuations – from the pogoing ‘Heebie Jeebies’ (whose lyric “You’ve gotta have a good time!” sounds like a threat) to the melodic, chiming riff of ‘Local Boy’ – keeping the energy up.
It’s certainly not the most avant-garde show anyone’s seen this year but – like Anthony Joshua, who knocked Gary Cornish out in 97 seconds – it gives the audience exactly what they want. “The new album sounds good,” guitarist Lucas Crowther promises before lending vocals to ‘Spend A Lifetime’. “Fuck it, we’ll keep going, know what I mean?”
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