LIVE: RATS – The Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool

When I got in on Friday night, I turned on the TV, and there was a programme on BBC 4 titled ‘Whatever Happened to Rock and Roll’.  Well Lauren Laverne and Eric Burdon, if you’d spent the last few hours at Liverpool’s Invisible Wind Factory, courtesy of This Feeling, then you’d know it’s alive and well and kicking-in doors.

First, a few words about the venue.  It’s an old converted warehouse on the docks, it’s a big space, and beautifully designed.  The interior is adorned with dangling lines of coloured lights and industrial, metallic sculptures.  There are rows of shooting steps along the walls, and a number of raised areas dotted around, so even the littlest of gig-goers can have a decent view.  Tonight’s capacity is around 1100 and it’s sold out.

Due to the vagaries of Liverpool venue gig times, I arrive at 7:30, just in time to miss the first band, Sonder.  Judging by the crowd reaction as they leave the stage, they went down well. 

Next up are STONE, a group that has risen from the ashes of former Liverpool band The Bohos.  Opening songs Keep Running and Bank Robbers give the crowd a taste of what they are in for.  Energetic, garage punk-rock with a bit of added spoken word rant and lyrics filled with social realism; The Stooges meet The Streets.  A little of the energy is lost as the band’s guitarist breaks his strap early on and has to to sit on the drum podium for a couple of songs until a replacement can be found.  Lead singer Finn Power makes up for it with his lectures delivered while standing on the monitors, and a judicious use of a steely 1000-yard stare.  They bring a neat set to a close with Leave It Out

Last support of the night are one of Liverpool’s fastest improving bands, The Kairos.  I’ve seen this band three times in the last few months and they just keep getting better and better.  They enter the stage to Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life and launch into previous single Money Mind, a stinging indie rebuke of gold-digger attitudes.  Punters move away from the bars and a mosh pit develops.  If you need a reference point for The Kairos sound, you can’t stray too far away from Oasis with a hint of Arctic Monkeys.  Fast paced indie guitar music that’s heavy on melody and riffs.  There are a couple of new songs, one by guitarist Lewis Chambers, before the set builds to a climax with new single Teetotal.  Teetotal is an anthem to coming of age and newfound freedom.  It’s a proper earworm.  You wake in the money hearing the chorus ‘and I feel it coming over, feel it coming over’ delivered in a Liam Gallagher type drawl.  A winning set finishes with lead singer Tom Dempsey standing centre stage holding his mic stand triumphantly aloft.  Job done.

Coloured spotlights circle the venue and Donna Summer’s I Feel Love pumps out to build the anticipation brilliantly as the four members of RATS take the stage in front of a packed-out crowd.  They keep the upbeat vibe by launching into the buoyant Figure It Out.  Singer Joe Maddocks asks the crowd to ‘help us out with the words’.  They dutifully assist by belting out the chorus, ‘She’s been out all night, Sipping on her white wine’.  The place is bouncing.  There are a couple of new songs The Daily Grind and The Hills; the latter is a beautiful song with a lovely melody.  There’s a couple of mistakes in there but no-one cares.  New Single Dreams gets an airing, this is clearly going to be their festival anthem.  In days gone-by you’d have your lighter out.  Tonight, the Invisible Wind Factory is sea of smartphone lights.

‘This one’s for all the mountain bike riders out there’ is Maddocks introduction to Jack, a well-constructed song that starts off with a jaunty melody and descends into cacophony of riffage.  We follow poor Jack through his own descent from zero hours contract through to drug dealing, jail and homelessness.  I was pleased to see that despite not having Skinnyman’s rap, this song loses none of its potency when heard live.  A scorching set of punchy, indie sing-along songs is brought to a close with the joyous Weekend.  As guitarist Michael Duncalf ends the song with a string of notes Eddie Van Halen would be proud off, red ribbons stream down on the elated crowd from the venues roof.  There’s no encore and Joe Maddocks leaves the stage with the parting words ‘Peace and love to all the ladies and men and everyone in-between.  We’ve been RATS.’.  They certainly had been.                 

As I left The Invisible Wind Factory, the weather on Liverpool docks was filthy.  A perfect metaphor for the evening of dirty rock and roll I had just witnessed.

You should have been there Lauren.

Ian Dunphy.                    

Photo Credit: TBC

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