The Rascals

Raise your hand if you heard of The Rascals before Miles Kane and Alex Turner joined the forces to form the retro-pop project of The Last Shadow Puppets. Did you?
No? Well, neither did I.

This is a band that has had luck, to be famous because of a side project of its leader, but also pays the price to its fame. People can’t look at them without linking Kane with Turner.

The two have been mates since Kane was in The Little Flames, its previous band.
They converged into The Last Shadow Puppets from very different positions.

Alex Turned has used the “Puppets” as a real side project. He gave Arctic Monkeys a much needed creative break after two years in the run and has enjoyed exploring different ideas instead of risking a quick third album. Clever.

Miles Kane situation is quite different. He is not the leader of the most successful English band. He is the leader of one of the thousands of “how-are-they?-OK” indie bands blossoming in the rainy midlands.
Forming a band with Turner means TV shows, interviews, festivals and gigs at the Apollo Hammersmith. What is, nowadays, quite an intimate venue for the Arctic Monkeys, is unthinkable (yet and for some time still) for The Rascals.

I quite like The Age of the Understatement album. It is not Arctic Monkeys, it is not The Rascals but there are 40 minutes of nice baroque-ness in those pop songs. Unquestionably, they both know how to write a good song and had a lot of fun being backed by a real orchestra.

The Rascals are a trio from the Wirral penynsula, the other side of the Mersey river from Liverpool. The three blokes emerged from The Little Flames ashes leaving Eva Petersen, the singer, attempting a solo career. They are still signed to Deltasonic, which carries on its pivotal attempt to keep the Liverpool scene alive.
Don’t you find Miles Kane a Beatle lookalike? Keep scrolling these pictures.

This December tour was originally due last September and postponed for someone illness. There is a rock’n’roll mysterious virus. Tours’ cancellations due to health problems are very frequent; either the rock-stars do not have the “physique du role” to live through their wild life anymore, or the management’s trick to simulate sickness in order to hide poor ticket sales is recurrent. No speculations. Unfortunately, three months of additional tickets sale haven’t managed to fill the 850 capacity venue with more than 100 fans. Three bands, 8£, a budding pop-star and just hundred people. The recession is taking over the live scene.

Listening to The Rascals‘ songs, I understand the friendship. Miles Kane is so similar to Alex Turner in every aspect that you may see them as brothers.

The Rascals played 16 songs in about a hour. They introduced a nice new song that fuelled the rumour of a second album coming.
Musically (and unsurprisingly) they are more in the Arctic Monkeys space than the complicate arrangements of The Last Shadow Puppets.

Their music has the rumbling drum and bass that sustain the songs, the mounting guitars a-la I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor, there is a comparable way of singing and Kane has even a similar tone to Alex Turner.

I don’t think they copy the Arctic Monkeys, though. I think Turner is right saying that he and Miles Kane have very similar musical taste. This results in the two writing songs with very similar structure.
Turner said in an interview that if they were schoolmates, today Kane would be in the “Monkeys”.
Well, that would have been the best option, indeed.

Then there are the Beatles. As I wrote for the Zutons, if you are from Liverpool either you deny your past playing something totally unrelated or you must consider them.

When you are like-minded to the leader of a very successful band and come from the city of the most succesful of all time, it’s impossible to escape such influences. The remaining option is to take the best out of it.
It is possible to be influenced by a style, to emulate a technique, to reproduce a sound but one thing is not possible: to get someone’s else creativity. The inventiveness that generates a classic song cannot be taken out of someone’s mind.

This is where The Rascals music fails. They work hard and have fun but the melodic genius of Alex Turner or Lennon/McCartney appear once every generation.
Miles Kane can write good songs, but he has neither composed his Fake Tales of San Francisco nor Norwegian Wood .

He loves his guitar. Surrounded by a large set of pedal effects, he fabricates sound and noise, melody and feedback that excite the young fans who decide to dance squeezed on the first rows. They couldn’t crowd-surf too much empty space in the hall.

They play the album almost on its entirety, a couple of new songs which are as catchy as their best singles.
All that Jazz, a Echo and the Bunnymen cover reminds everyone that Liverpool is not only The Beatles. I’ll give you Symphaty and Is it Too Late? to please everyone, close the set. The small crowd is chanting and screaming their name loud, not enough to convince them to comeback for the encore.

With so many bands around; with the Arctic Monkeys third album being recorded with the help of the Queen of the Stone Age, Joshe Homme in his Desert studios; with the economic recession that is killing record sales and slowing down even the live scene; The Rascals will have to put their best effort into the second album to survive such a critical scenario.

I wish they do. Miles Kane is a nice and talented guy, he needs to pull out of the top hat a bunch of distinctive songs and a killer tune. Let’s hope his best mate gives him good suggestions. That’s what friendship is for, isn’t it?

The Rascals music is on their [myspace] [website]

Photo Tip

Photography needs light. There is no exception to this rule.
No light, no photos.

If you want to get a photograph, you need at least one luminous source to delineate the subject.
Now you have the answer if you were wondering what has happened to these photos. I had to play with photoshop to make some of them “ridiculously artistic” to decorate this article.

I know I am going to pass for another concert photographer complaining about bad lighting at gigs but I don’t care.
I appeal to bands, promoters, labels and whoever controls the music-biz and direct light technicians.

If you don’t want photographers to shoot your band, that is ok.
Just tell us: “Sorry, no photographers are allowed for this tour”. We will understand.

If you want us to leave our home, travel to the venue, take pictures of your band, come back home, post-editing the images and send to journals, please, provide us with some light.
We need it as much as you need electric power to plug band’s instruments.

We adapted to work with the annoying rule of “first three songs”.
Not ideal, but it’s ok. Ultimately you deprived rock fans to see photos of the best concert moments that mostly happen at the end of the shows when we have been kicked out of the pit, never at the beginning.

We bought expensive fast lenses and work with high ISO to accept that flash is disturbing the performers.
I talked to many professional musicians and all of them told me that they can’t be bothered by flash.
They don’t even notice it from the stage. Take a glance at the crowd of any gig and you will see tenths of flashes.
The ones who produce professional images to promote bands are penalised. Who takes low quality pictures and videos from the crowd to post them on flickr and youtube “walks free” with flashes being used throughout the entire set.

There is a limit to everything, though. We cannot work without lights, fact.
A camera working in the obscurity hasn’t been produced. It might be in the future but not yet.
I have been shooting hundreds of gigs this year and an increasing number have conditions not suitable to photography. Sometimes it is due to the poor venue resources, but most of the times it is the band choice.

Please, light up the stage! At least for the bloody first three songs, put in an additional front spotlight if you want your band to be published with some quality photo.

As an alternative, let us know in advance that the band decision is to play with lights not suitable for decent photography. We are quite happy to stay at home or opt for another gig.

Thanks.


~ by Valerio on December 18, 2008.

5 Responses to “The Rascals”

  1. Oh wow, these are indeed some very bad lights! But I think you made the best out of the situation, I especially like photo 1 and 4.
    But I don’t think it was the band’s choice to play in the dark because when I saw and photographed them, they had pretty good lights (see http://flickr.com/photos/ijankowski/sets/72157610038400115/).

  2. You may be right Isabell, that venue has quite often horrible lights.
    There where nice backlights (I like them) but no frontlights so they played in the shadow.
    Great pictures on your set, well done!

  3. wow, nice blog and great pictures!
    come and vistit us: http://awayfromhere.net/
    it’s in spanish (we’re mexicans) but i’m sure you’ll understand many things :)
    ciao

  4. Dear, I disagree the way you considered The Rascals, or Miles KAne similar to Alex turner. There is no doubt that they have the same taste, but i think the Rascals has a psychedelic face more developped in their sound than Turner’s band, which is this influence we find in the Last Shadow Puppets, and makes Turner’s project different from Arctic Monkeys. For sure , Alex Turner has an absolute talent, but that doesn’t make him a norm of talent.

  5. Sorry, I forget to say that the first photos are great.

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