Review: Bob Geldolf, St George’s

May 29, 2012

It’s difficult to criticise a Knight of the Realm who has helped save millions of lives across Africa. But the Emperor’s New Clothes comes to mind with Bob Geldof in concert.

On tour to promote his first album in a decade, How To Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell, a record that despite its title, did not quite sell in its millions, Sir Bob received a standing ovation before he had even played a note.

Here is a man feted across the globe, with prime ministers and presidents on speed dial, far better known now as a political activist rather than a singer.

But a singer he remains, a strutting, pouting, aggressive and theatrical frontman.

Geldof may have originally thought that he was in Bath, but he didn’t care. He told us that he thinks he is brilliant, although he put a choice adjective before the word brilliant.

Playing without any support, Geldof drew much of this set from his Irish background, with a fiddler the pick of the musicians up on stage with him.

Great Song of Indifference opened the two-hour set, an ironically-named title for someone who is so passionate about causes, even about burning chain Italian eateries.

“It’s very nice to be here again,” he said, long grey hair constantly being swept behind his ears. “Back in the day in the Rats, we got banned from Bath for threatening to torch Pizza Hut. I remember an outraged Lord Mayor.”

New songs included old-fashioned love song Dazzled By You, and How I Roll, featuring a sample of Summer in the City by The Lovin’ Spoonful.

Strutting around during songs, between numbers Geldof held court, talking about a recent trip to Africa as a way to introduce Scream in Vain, about the back streets of Addis Ababa.

Many of his new songs were full of gusto, but failed to bring the crowd to life in the same way as the Boomtown Rats back catalogue, most noticeably, of course, I Don’t Like Mondays, preceded by some tantalising piano chords and finishing with Geldof’s voice cracking with the effort.

This rare solo gig by Geldof was somewhat self-indulgent, but that’s allowable for somebody who has saved millions of lives.

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