Red Rum ClubEVOL @ O2 Academy 28/9/19
It’s a packed, expectant and hot O2 Academy that awaits RED RUM CLUB. Everyone’s up for a good time with these local crowd pleasers; there’s almost a sense of reverence towards them.
In terms of set design it’s perfectly pitched: the tension and excitement are built to a peak before the silhouetted band walk on behind a red curtain, fitting with the Matador theme, which tumbles to the floor to reveal a group rightly confident in their abilities accompanied by a celebratory explosion of confetti and the first notes of Honey.
Singer Fran Doran’s adept at whipping up the bodies before him to near hysteria. Before he’ll start playing Would You Rather Be Lonely? during the encore, he insists people get on shoulders – it takes a fair while and leads to some precarious pairings. He’s got the swagger and charm all the best frontmen have and that mysterious ingredient which means all eyes are pinned on him.
On record Doran’s voice is at times reminiscent of Ian McCulloch (which is such a lovely thing) while on a couple of tracks – Kids Addicted in particular – the overall sound is reminiscent of latter day Manics (OK, but not breaking any new ground). Live these subtleties are lost in the mix: the vocals are still strong, but the ubiquitous trumpet drowns out the guitars meaning at points it becomes one unstoppable mass of brass.
They seem like a group who are loving the acclaim they’re receiving after years of working hard. Doran speaks with understandable pride about their album after seven years of graft, and what they do they do well. They come across as a band who’ve been selling out arenas for years. If the success of tonight is anything to judge it by, their stock will continue to rise.
Performance wise they’ve got the confidence and charm nailed and, technically, all six are really good musicians. It just depends what you’re into and people here are very much on the Red Rum Club team – as the inflatable trumpets proffered towards the band attest. It’s a packed-out singalong, but at points it teeters precariously close to being the musical equivalent of Live Laugh Love, guaranteed to whip up emotion in a hometown crowd on a Saturday night. Not necessarily a bad thing, depending on what you want from a band.
A cover of Golden Slumbers is lovely and fits the bill, showing in whose trail they’d like to follow: if success is built on confidence, they’ve smashed it. They could and will be playing venues far bigger than this soon – commercially their songs strike the right note between indie guitar rock and radio-friendly ear-worms. They’re fully formed and rounded as a live act ready for much bigger things – but sometimes a bit of edge does us all good.
It’s definitely crowd-pleasing, if not ground breaking, but it’d be petulant to argue with a room so full of joy.