Live: The Rah’s – Zanzibar, Liverpool

If you come out of Liverpool Central Station and fight your way through the hordes of stag and hen do’s (literally on some occasions), make a couple of turns, and you’ll find yourself at Zanzibar.  If you are unprepared enough to not check stage times with the venue, you’ll also find yourself turning up three hours early for the band you’ve come to see.  Seriously, what sort of start time is 11:50 pm! I should be in bed by then.

Tonight’s ‘Sister Midnight Presents’ event has a five-band line-up.  A line-up that size requires more stamina and mental agility than this reviewer possess.  So, here’s a review of Edinburgh fourpiece The Rah’s.

When they enter the stage, the first thing you notice about them is that they look like a proper rock band.  Lead singer and guitarist, Jack McLeod has a long-haired, Messianic, Hutchencesque look about him.  Lead Guitarist, Jordan McIntyre, has the whiff of a leather, bomber jacketed Gerard Butler.  Lee Brown takes the role of unassuming bassist to the Nth degree, wearing a camouflage jacket and sunglasses, almost trying to fade into the background.  Drummer, Neale Gary carries off a pencil-moustached look with great aplomb.  They look the part.

Now forget all that.  Much more importantly, they sound the part.  My mental reference notes went something like: The Black Keys, Foo Fighters, Primal Scream. Over the course 30 minutes The Rah’s played an excellently structured, eight song set, that built to a dramatic culmination with the brilliantly, urgent ‘The Time is Now’.  But, we’ll get to that later.

The first song that really grabs your attention is ‘If You Never Try You’ll Never Know’.  The track immediately hits you over the head with a drum intro akin to start of The Chemical Brothers/Noel Gallagher collaboration, ‘Setting Sun’. Drummer, Neale Gary likes a big, booming drum sound. The singer delivers the lyrics in a precise, high, clipped fashion, ideal for the song.  Lead guitarist, Jordan gets to show show off his skills on a couple of occasions. There is a brief middle solo where he gets his moneies worth out of his ’Wah-Wah’ effect pedal. He gets to shine again as the song picks up pace and bulk and ends with a rolling, crescendo of thumping drums and big, deep chords.  And breathe.

A favourite of the Zanzibar on the night was ‘Take It All In’.  A rock anthem in the making with ever shifting drum beats which keep you, as a listener, on your toes.  Part way through the song, singer Jack gives you his consent to move about a bit with the line, ‘If you wanna dance, go ahead and dance.’  The crowd didn’t need his permission. They were already bouncing.

A vibrant set climaxed with the vital, pressing, ‘The Time is Now’. This song starts with just a demanding, spoken vocal, ordering, ‘…overcome, take over, THE TIME IS NOW!’.  And then it all kicks off.  I’m not sure for who ‘the time is now’. The crowd? The Rah’s? Or even the music scene in general, but someone better do something!  And be quick about it!  The song’s riffs and tempo have a vague reminiscence of The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’, about them. That can only be a recommendation.  The song builds from an already dramatic start to a frantic climax of pounding drums, thrashing guitars and a mass of reverb. The band are off stage before the last notes end.

Lyrically, The Rah’s songs are, on the face of it, uplifting.  Songs about hope, chances to be taken, and opportunities not be missed.  Sonically, if you like your Indie music at the ‘rockier’ end of the scale, then these boys are for you.  The Rah’s rock, with a capital ‘Rah’.

Ian Dunphy.       

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