Alan Fletcher / The Rakes - 53 Degrees Preston - 26.5.05

Nurses, firemen, Daffyd "The Only Gay In The Village" and then Neighbours Dr Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher) on-stage singing Robbie Williams "Let Me Entertain You" to a hail of damp student knickers and thongs. You could imagine the scene if you were shroomed up, but the fact this is sober in the sleepy town of Preston only adds to the surreal scenario we witness on the Longest Night.

Fletch, who back home writes semi-serious music with the Waiting Room (the anti-war song "Perfectly Comfortable" is his Russell Crowe meets Billy Bragg moment), over here he's a game for laugh whore who sings for his supper and like Prisoner Cell Block H it's so bad it's good. The Proclaimers "500 Miles", Oasis' "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back In Anger", Baddiel and Skinner's "Three Lions" are all knocked out alongside a couple of his own songs that sound like Aussie versions of Ryan Adams. Alan Fletcher knows his audience, mainly inebriated students, and we gave the Aussie's endless series of The Bill, so in this cultural exchange we're the ones getting value for money.

Upstairs The Rakes and The Cazals fly the flag for the new wave of post-punk. The Cazals sing of innocent boys, but have a wicked glint in their eyes which suggest their far for innocent. The Rakes really should have been in 24 Hour Party People playing Joy Division at the original Factory club night. The similarities are obvious with singer Alan Donohoe mimicking Ian Curtis with the fevered passion of Martin Rossitter at a Smiths convention. It's when they deviate from the predictable that they truly shine. "Dark Clouds" is stolen from a reggae track, but sounds like Duran Duran's "Girls On Film" while previous singles "Retreat" and "Strasbourg" don't fail to excite. The Rakes are really a band to look out for.

A surreal trip through our times where the sublime meets the ridiculous. Tonight was like having a little bit of trippy Glastonbury brought to your door

Words (and lead photo): Alex McCann
Live Photos: Drew Harrison (

Click here to see our News Story of when the Rakes met Karl Kennedy


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