“Rave on”, it says. Stencilled across the amps at the back of the stage. A mantra. A statement. A pretty succinct definition of what Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner are going to to do until somebody physically stops them.
So on they rave. Ten years. Six albums. On, serenely, The Raveonettes rave. On to Shoreditch, on to seventeen songs, decently spread across their back catalogue, dispatched with undeniable precision. As a show it's full of great moments, it's just a shame they have a tendency to whistle past without any fanfare. It's like being shown around a gallery by a curator with acute mania who has just downed a pint of espresso.
Whoosh, goes the gorgeous 'She Owns The Streets', where their Buddy Holly tendencies and their reverb addiction explode in glittering gloriousness. Bye-bye you wave to 'Blush' as it scampers past in fuzzy Jesus & Mary Chain fashion. Hey, was that the brutal simplicity of 'Attack Of The Ghost Riders' sneeringly tugging the collar of its leather jacket up on its way through to rebel against something? Oh. Well. But. Wait... No? Ok.
All good, but the brevity, combined with the lack of interaction makes it stop just short of being spectacular. Workmanlike rather than totally inspired. It doesn't help that there are a couple of musical wobbles. Wagner's falsetto on 'Lust' is a little shaky and their reliance on a backing track to fill in the piano bits which sprung up on the latest album ('Observator') stick out uncomfortably rather than seamlessly fitting in. Most of all, the closing blitz from 'Bowels of the Beast' through to 'Cops on Our Tail', are a pummeling reminder that The Raveonettes work best when there is a little balance to proceedings. Most ably demonstrated on the wonderful 'Young & Cold'. One of the more stripped back numbers, minus drummer and with Foo on an acoustic, it still manages to be cacophonous, but it gives sufficient space for their heartbroken vocal harmonies to properly soar.
While it's true that much of The Raveonettes' material is formulaic, an adherence to prescribed ingredients serves as the backbone for their work, the skilful fashion in which they're presented means it doesn't get dull. It just reminds you why those things they've purloined are the key components of any number of amazing records - and also probably the reason why they have yet to make a bad album. Formulaic doesn't have to mean bad.
Besides, the fact that the two highlights of the set, the aforementioned Young & Cold and the sleazy clatter of The Great Love Sound, originate from the albums that bookend their career suggest that there's nothing broken here to fix. So rave on. By all means, rave on. Just maybe pause and wave hello occasionally. It'll make us appreciate you all the more.
Words by Tim Lee
Photos by Mark Ashby