Live Review: Red Rum Club // The Scala, London, 12.03.24

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“Thank you to everyone who made our dreams come true.” frontman Fran Doran says mid-gig, reflecting on Red Rum Club‘s latest album being their first top-ten record. Western Approaches, a deeply scouse record from the Liverpudlian six-piece (made up of Fran Doran Neil Lawson, Michael McDermott, Tom Williams, and Joe Corby)  shot up to number eight, bringing them praise from Sir Elton John, as shared later in the show.

The night began with electrifying support sets from Delights and Bankes Brothers, London’s Scala already full of anticipation for the headliners. Manchester’s Delights brought along their perfected brand of breezy, beach indie, infected with classic rock influence. Bankes Brothers played a set full of wavey melodies, lo-fi dipped tracks, contrasted with brusque vocals. Both invigorating the crowd for what comes next.

Red Rum Club now exists in a delicate sweet spot, having hit the point in a band’s career where their setlist is almost an all-encompassing greatest hits set, able to document their evolution from Liverpool darlings to a national indie powerhouse. It’s a beautiful point to see a band, a homegrown group that only honours their roots, play a tight set – you walk away feeling every era was represented, hit with a healthy measure of nostalgia, seamlessly blending into excitement hearing the newest tracks played live.

Opening with their signature trumpet solos, bleeding into more traditional rock and roll, Red Rum Club keep the crowded gripped, bringing high-energy songs back to back before taking a dip into slower tracks. ‘The River’ is played with a country feel, Houdini next slowing us down before we ramp back into an era of brash classics.

‘Vibrate’ has the crowd hanging off of Doran’s every word, his energy as a frontman ever growing with their career- now he carries effortless confidence and finesse as he keeps the room bouncing. 

‘Hole In My Home’ has become an instant classic. The heartfelt hit filled the room, with crowds chanting the chorus back repeatedly, again and again throughout the show, even through the encore. It’s rare to see a crowd hang onto a newer track so well, especially one released a matter of weeks before the show, likely after most tickets were purchased. The Scala is packed with those who skyrocketed Western Approaches into the charts with their purchases and streams.

Towards the end of the show, the band bring massive track after massive track, from the gravelly ‘Kids Addicted’ to the western-influenced, subdued yet overwhelming ‘Black Cat’  striking a delicate dichotomy between subdued yet overwhelming. ‘Vanilla’ fits just as well in this set as it would in a noughties teen movie, while ‘Jigsaw Shores’ channels The XX in bouncy riffs.

Back for the encore, called back to the stage by the crowd belting ‘Hole In My Home’, just two return to the stage to play ‘Last Minute’- a subtle, acoustic track that goes against what we thought we knew about the band. But we do a 180 before ending the show, diving right into ‘Eleanor’, the swell in the room becoming overwhelming. From performing this track on sticky and dark Liverpool floors, the band has taken this over the country repeatedly, having represented the city as best as anyone could ever hope. 

The band ended the night with fan-favorite, ‘Would You Rather Be Lonely’, with fans clambering onto each other’s shoulders, vying for attention from the band. It might be Tuesday night, but Red Rum Club treats it as anything but, bringing a massive Liverpool-infused party far from home, bestowing a blessing on the crowd to embrace irresponsibility, to welcome distraction, and dance with strangers into the night.

Words by David Roskin


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