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What's on: Boomtown Rats Roberts and Crowe, Clitheroe, August 10
For Garry Roberts and Simon Crowe of the Boomtown Rats, next month’s show in the Ribble Valley will take them back to where it all began. JOHN ANSON meets original band member Garry who’s enjoying bringing their hits to a new audience
IN May, 1977, a young Irish band found themselves deep in the Ribble Valley preparing to play their first ever gig in the UK.
The venue was the Lodestar at Ribchester and the band, the Boomtown Rats.
“Punk had just happened and I remember people jumping up and down a lot and spitting at us which was something we’d never experienced before,” said Garry Roberts. “But because it was our first gig away from home I think we all have some affection for the place.”
From humble beginnings – some say there were only 12 people in the crowd for that historic first show – the Boomtown Rats with charismatic frontman Bob Geldof, became one of the leading bands of the new wave scene with hits such as I Don’t Like Mondays and Rat Trap.
Thirty-five years later and Garry is heading back to the Ribble Valley, along with the Rats drummer Simon Crowe to play the Grand in Clitheroe.
With bassist and singer Bob Bradbury and guitarist Darren Beale, Roberts and Crowe are enjoying a new lease of life.
“The current line-up is the one I prefer for a band,” said Garry, “two guitars, bass and drums. Originally we had keyboard and sax but now we play the songs without that and it has meant a whole new dimension to many of the songs.
“I very much subscribe to the idea that less is more in music and with this line-up you can have very simple but clever riffs which really work.
“I Don’t Like Mondays for example is quite grungy now – and you can dance to it.”
Garry only went back on the road recently and it’s all thanks to eBay.
“I’d put my original guitar amp up for sale and was contacted by Clitheroe promoter Pete Barton.
“He saw the item for sale and rang to ask if I was THE Garry Roberts from the Boomtown Rats.
“When I told him I was he asked if I’d be interested on going out playing Rats songs and the more I thought about it the more it appealed to me.
“But I didn’t want to go out alone so I put Pete in touch with Simon and things took off from there.”
Relations between members of the Boomtown Rats have, at times, been strained and are well documented, but Garry said that any animosity is now behind them.
“I think we’re all at a stage when we’ve realised that your old friends are the best friends and life is too short to bear grudges,” he said.
”I’m really enjoying going out with the band now. I think people like the fact that even though we may all look older we can still capture the spirit of the music that meant so much to us.
“We were always a band which had a lot of energy and we retain that. I do like to throw the odd shape when I’m playing guitar.”
- Boomtown Rats Roberts and Crowe, the Grand, Clitheroe, Friday, August 10. Details from the box office on 01200 421599.
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