Probably the gig I had been looking forward to the most in 2022. I even had to forego the joys of an evening under the floodlights at Goodison Park – for a night under the spotlights of The Jacaranda – to watch Edinburgh band The Rah’s. My only previous sighting of The Rah’s was at Liverpool’s Zanzibar in 2019, where despite not being the headliners on the night, they blew all the other acts on the bill out of the water. Since then they have released their excellent debut album, When Does It Become Real? which only further whetted my appetite for more of The Rah’s. Let’s hope my sacrifice and anticipation were to be rewarded.
There were two bands on prior to our headliners. I think eclectic is a suitable word to describe the night’s line-up. First up were a local four piece Polker, whose style some might describe as Alt Rock, and I might too if I knew what that meant. Surging vocals, sustained, slowly diminishing chords and ever crashing cymbals permeated songs like Falls like Lightning and Louder By The Sea.
The next band had a style that was much easier to pigeon-hole. The Whiskey Thrills, another local quartet, who despite coming from east of the M62, and not East Texas, are definitely a Country Rock band. Their own songs Beg and Working Man deal in the country staples of sentimentality and the plight of the ‘everyman’. As well as their own material The Whisky Thrills played a couple of covers, a lively rendition of Keith Urban’s Sweet Thing, and a decent, if rather incongruous version of James‘ Sit Down, which brought their set to a close.
Country Rock is not one of my favourite music genres by any stretch of the imagination, but have to say I did enjoy The Whiskey Thrills. If I had one piece of advice to give them it would be to keep things simple. Attempts at using different tunings and constant changes of guitars did effect the flow of the band’s set somewhat.
Finally the moment I had been waiting three years for had arrived. The Jacaranda is one of Liverpool’s smaller venues, so arranging a walk-on is quite a difficult task. In the case of The Rah’s this meant the five band members setting-up, walking off in single file (stage-right), doing an ‘about turn’ and walking back on to the sound of Echo and the Bunnymen‘s The Cutter. I assume that for the other shows on this tour, in Manchester and London they will walk on to something equally partisan, perhaps The Stone Roses and The Clash?
The opening song begins with lead singer Jack McLeod holding a megaphone in his hand. For those in the know, this meant that they would be starting with the first track off the album, the vibrant rallying cry that is The Time Is Now. Two more songs from the album follow, the soaring, anthemic Crave and the relentless, pounding If You Never Try (You’ll Never Know). There is ‘world exclusive’ live performance of a new song I’ve Never Been Wrong – McLeod’s vocal delivery on this is very Alex Turner, and the ‘do, do ,do’ backing vocal arrangement also seemed to be nodding in the general direction of the Arctic Monkeys.
The Rah’s went for a very upbeat, energetic set list, their slower, more delicate songs like Watch The World, Thoughts, and Fuel To The Fire were all absentees. In the case of the last song probably due to logistical reasons – it features a bagpipe solo – and where do you find a bagpiper in Liverpool on a Thursday night? Instead, and correctly, The Rah’s decide to bombard their audience with a barrage of indie rock and roller bangers. Our Design sees guitarist Jordan McIntyre presenting Kelly Jones style guitar riffs, and McLeod on vocals emulating the younger Gallagher brother’s drawling delivery. She’s Not starts with McLeod facing drummer Neale Gray, playfully waggling his arse to the crowd, channeling his inner Rod Stewart. The song itself has the growling, guttural throb of a BRMC song. An exhilarating set comes to an end with the equally powerful Land of Dreamers.
I certainly wasn’t disappointed with The Rah’s performance, the wait had definitely been worth it. By the time you read this review The Rah’s mini three-city tour of England will be over. I’m hoping I don’t have to wait another three years to see them again. I’m confident that it will be at a larger venue as The Rah’s are on an upward trajectory. If you get the chance to see The Rah’s anywhere, take it.