Live at The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 16th March 2019
Red Rum Club arriving on stage was like a dam breaking; running out, they launched into Angeline at high speed, trumpet blasting and Fran Doran, their front man, twirling dervish-like. It was this manic rush of energy, sustained through most of the set, that made things work.
Following the ever-improving funk and soul of Leeds’ Happy Daggers was a tough act to follow but much of the audience were clearly in love with the band and the front of the crowd was packed with adoring young women grabbing for the roses scattered around the stage. As a Liverpudlian band always seems to be the centre of an ex-pats reunion, local men with an attachment to Liverpool pointed at the sky and sang the choruses loud. The album seemed to me to be fairly generic lively Scouse indie but here, at a gig, the frantic tempo and punch brought it to life. The addition of Joe The Blow to the band a little while back pulled the sound up, as the trumpet punctuates and gives a vaguely Mariachi feel. It’s the same effect Arthur Lee achieved in Love’s Forever Changes – not that this approaches those dizzy heights. Similarly, the lyrics, focussing still on cliches (girl, I need you, you need me girl, your mother hates me, rhyming crave and grave) become less of an issue with the waves of energy piled behind them.
The melodies are anthemic and sometimes this sounds like an uptempo Ian McNabb. There are other echoes of Liverpool history in the Echo and the Bunneymen influence on Angeline and the bassist’s Rickenbacker guitar. This is a band that has figured out how to work a gig and works REALLY hard. Doran is fizzing, leaping, twirling, smiling amongst church candles and a stage scattered with artificial roses steadily thrown into the crowd as the front rows jump and wave their arms. The band smiles, exchange glances, thrilled to be going over well in their biggest venue yet. The drums pound double time, the bass plays counter-point, and the twin guitar attack punches.
As I leave, some time after the end of the set, there are men singing “Would You Rather Be Lonely” in the car park.