The Rakes, Brixton Carling Academy

Live, The Rakes are a completely different entity from what comes across on record - brash, loud and punchy.

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Date: 31 Mar 2007 | By Russell Powell | Rating: 4
The Rakes, Brixton Carling Academy

Being a support act can be a daunting thing for any new up and coming talent, especially as you're in a massive venue and no-one's there to actually see you. This plight is worsened still if your name is Matthew Saunders, your set includes a cover of the Happy Days theme tune and the main act can't even remember who you are. Although sounding like a solo version of The Feeling didn't really help either.

Fortunately, We Start Fires fare a lot better. The three girls and a guy on drums produce a tuneful, catchy, slightly angular set expertly employing a 70's prog-rock synthesiser to dirty up beautifully sung lyrics. They are definitely an outfit to keep a close eye on in the coming months.

Penultimate act of tonight are The Holloways, who seem to have brought a lot of support with them following the release of their debut album, although their set seems to be just for the hardcore few down the front. Some lacklustre pop-rock by numbers at the start, which culminate in a couple of decent tunes, but left little to impress any one who actually needed impressing.

As Alan Donohoe et al enter stage right, the projector screens descend and the anticipation in the crowd reaches fever pitch. As the first few drum beats of 'Retreat' fill the venue, the crowd begin to pogo and dance like some sort of delirium has overcome them, which continues throughout the opening gambit of tunes.

The live sound The Rakes possess isn't evident on record, and comes as a pleasant surprise to the uninitiated amongst the crowd, and tracks such as 'Strasbourg', 'We Danced Together' and firm crowd favourite '22 Grand Job' seem beefier and ballsier than they have done previously - in no small part aided by the monstrous sound system and fit-inducing light show.

The post-punk art-rock aesthetic adopted still remains, but any pretentiousness is removed when Donohoe proceeds to quote 'Peep Show' and banter hilariously with the crowd concerning why they should be having the time of their lives tonight and not seeing "some tribute band like The Fratellis." As a front man the resemblance between Donohoe and Jarvis Cocker is uncanny; both having slight frames that expertly perform child-like dance moves, both witty, with a voice that speaks to many, and both having a stage presence that belies their diminutive physical stature.

Although some of the newer material isn't received as well as the old, possibly due to unfamiliarity, the crowd continue to sing and dance, along with the persistant crowd-surfing, until The Rakes down their instruments and depart the stage for the first time. The band then return to pepper the crowd with flowers and breeze through a three song encore culminating in 'The World Was A Mess But His Hair Was Perfect', a tale of a night out that acts as a fitting end to the evening's proceedings.

Live, The Rakes are a completely different entity from what comes across on record - brash, loud and punchy. They proved to the masses tonight they are as essential now as they have ever been before.