The Rapture, Sala Razzmatazz, Barcelona

Our heroes are back, in person, on stage, ready to entertain.

Rating:

Ah, The Rapture have returned, and there’s a strange mix of relief and apprehension in the air. Relief that, after an extended, and what looked at one point fatal, hiatus, our heroes are indeed back, in person, on stage, ready to entertain. Apprehension as we realise that given their well-publicised trials and tribulations, we shouldn’t assume they’ll continue, and this could truly be the last time. We are the house of anxious lovers, determined to wring every last drop of pleasure from proceedings, committing it all to memory lest our beloved closes the door, never to return. It’s a heady combination.

Maybe such conflicting emotions weigh heavily on Luke Jenner too. This being the last night of their European tour, he looks exhausted, elated, and relieved in equal measure as he wanders on to the opening strains of ‘In The Grace of Your Love’, a clever choice that lets each member walk on, start up their part, and wait for the next one. It’s a neat piece of showmanship – possible borrowed from their DFA brethren, LCD Soundsystem – and an early indication of just how good things are going to get. Their unique take on disco-indie-punk can’t be easy to replicate live, but they absolutely nail it.

Despite drawing almost half the tracks from their recent comeback effort, tonight has the air of a Greatest Hits set such is the euphoria and enthusiasm on both sides of the barrier. After opening with a couple of newbies, we get a glorious run that reminds us of why we fell in love with them in the first place. Aside from favourites ‘Pieces Of The People We Love’ and ‘Get Myself Into It’ – both as brilliant as you would hope – they treat us to the dark, driving disco of ‘Killing’, the upbeat jauntiness of ‘The Devil’, and a rare outing for ‘Whoo! Alright – Yeah…Uh Huh’, with the latter’s thumping bass, off-tempo cowbell and simple, repetitive riff reminding us just how influential they were. By the time ‘Olio’ segues neatly and seamlessly into ‘Come Back To Me’, the bars are empty and everyone is pushing relentlessly forward, straining to get closer.

Years apart or stuck in a studio can sometimes dull a bands sense of performance, but that’s certainly not the case here. Having given up posturing in favour of “just wanting to be in a really good band”, it’s clear Jenner intends to live up to his word. As well as some neat sax solos sprinkled liberally throughout, the primal howls and yelps he showcases during ‘House Of Jealous Lovers’ prove he still has the pipes. Similarly, the metronomic brilliance of drummer Vito Roccoforte, particularly during ‘Sail Away’, highlights just how vital a reliable stickman is when it comes to this type of music, and it’s to their credit they never once rely on drum machines or loops. ‘In The Grace of Your Love’ may have been a disappointment to those hoping for the genius of yore, but they can still pen a stomper as last track ‘How Deep Is Your Love?’ shows. Live, it’s like they’ve never been away, and one can only hope that Act II of their story turns out every bit as fruitful as the first. Tonight bodes well for that future.