Today, Bob Geldof is admired for his many humanitarian causes and projects. It is often forgotten that from 1976-1985, he fronted the Irish cutting edge rock band, The Boomtown Rats.
Guitarist Gary Roberts, keyboardist Johnnie Fingers, bassist Pete Briguette, guitarist Gerry Cott, drummer Simon Crowe, and vocalist Bob Geldof were originally known as the Nightlife Thugs but by 1977 were performing and recording as The Boomtown Rats, They released their self-titled debut album in 1977 and followed that with their 1978 breakthrough release A Tonic For The Troops.
The year 1978 found them embarking on an extensive European tour. The German stop on that tour is chronicled on a new DVD/CD set with the appropriate title Live In Germany ’78.
This is the early, raw, angry, and primitive Boomtown Rats. Their debut album contained nine tracks and eight of them form the foundation for this live album. “Lookin’ After No. 1” is a blast from the late 1970’s New Wave Era. “Mary Of The 4th Form” is a sexually explicit tale of a teacher and a young girl, which would have a very difficult time getting any airplay today. “Do The Rat” comes from the same era and was a B side to a European single. It is more of a free form approach.
The tour is dated from 1978 but probably took place before the release of their second album. Only two songs, “She’s So Modern” and “Don’t Believe What You Read” appear on that release. While they fit in with the other live material, they are more sophisticated than the other songs and show that the band has already started to mature.
An interesting inclusion is a copy of their 10 page contact rider containing such tidbits as payments, merchandising, damage (no responsibility whatever), dressing rooms, security, and guess lists.
The DVD and sound is at the mercy of the technology of the day. It probably was not recorded with a general release in mind, and certainly not with the sophistication of today’s technology. Still the gritty nature of the performance can be appreciated against this backdrop.
The original incarnation of the Boomtown Rats lasted until 1986, when the members went on to other projects. They reformed in 2013. Live Germany ’78 is an excellent glimpse of a band beginning to develop their persona, and who would become an important element in the emerging New Wave scene.