Standing in a small Digbeth kebab shop at almost midnight with “Woah Woah Wo-ah” ringing out in and around the place with perfect resemblance to ‘Romeo & Julie’, that’s when you know it has been a good gig.
A reasonable crowd had packed into the basement like venue at the bottom of Birmingham’s Institute that is The Library, and although there was no ‘She’s Got Standards’, ‘Science in Violence’, or ‘Love is a Key’ played, this gig was very much about what was in the set list, not what was missing from it. With half of the crowd looking like extra from Quadrophenia, and the other half probably old enough to have starred in it themselves, all chanting for the band up to an hour before their arrival, it wasn’t hard to see why The Rifles fan base has a reputation of being one of the most loyal around, and they were not to be disappointed.
The band, led on by frontman Joel Stroker, took to the stage shortly after quarter past nine, and jumped straight into a set that would demonstrate only further the consistently high standard they have achieved in their decade together. I’m not sure they’ve heard of the concept of building up at the start of the gig, with big fan favourite ‘Peace and Quiet’ being thrown in early on, and setting the tone for an unrelentingly enthusiastic crowd. Their Oasis influence is clear for all to see, with the connection between founding members Stroker and lead guitarist Crowther resembling that of the Gallagher’s, except you don’t feel like they could punch each other in the chin at any moment.
The set moved on with old, and new, favourites of the crowd a regular occurrence, ‘Dreamer’ and ‘Long Walk Back’ the most notable appearances in this middle section of the gig. Even the following acoustic section with only Stoker and Crowther failed to tame a more than excitable crowd, and pure pandemonium followed as they launched back into their full quota with what would have been the highlight of the night in ‘Local Boy’, had ‘Romeo & Julie’ not came along directly after and smashed its way to being the clear winner for song of the night.
A short break didn’t kill the mood either, and the two song encore was met with great pleasure from the Library, and the lack of some of the songs mentioned earlier was more than made up for with the outstanding finish of ‘Under and Over’ merely the icing on the proverbial cake that was yet another fantastic performance from one of England’s more underrated bands.
Anybody who hasn’t heard The Rifles new album None The Wiser or any of their other three previous albums for that matter, I implore you to give them a go and you will not be disappointed. A great band, and yet another great performance from them. Well worth a watch if you ever get the chance.