Boomtown Rats

Dun Laoghaire 1975 - 1986

Line up;
Bob Geldof Vocals
Gerry Cott Guitar
Gary Roberts Guitar
Johnny Fingers Keyboards
Pete Briquette Bass
Simon Crowe Drums
The Early Shows

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Image from "In Dublin" magazine
At this time in Bolton Street Tech there were three guys Johnny Fingers, Pete Briquette and Gerry Cott thinking of forming a band; seperate to this Gary Roberts and some friends were planning a band. Geldof met them, discussed some ideas on music and format and they asked him to become their manager. At this time Geldof introduced the rest of the band to the music of a band from Canvey Island, Dr Feelgood. The band were working under the name of Mark Skid and the Yronts. They were offered the chance of a gig at Bolton St. Tech. This was a "free gig". Geldof turned down the offer on the rule that "we'll do nothing for free we're not hippys and we never fukin were. The organizers at Bolton St came up with an offer of £5, Geldof said £35 and they agreed. The blend of hard business with music had taken it's root. Around this time Geldof was reading "Bound For Glory", the life story of Woody Guthrie. The band started their performance in Bolton St under the title of the Nightlife Thugs. Halfway through the gig Geldof recalled the passage in "Bound For Glory" where the 11 year old Guthrie found himself in "Boomtown" faced with the joining the older "Big Gang" from the right side of the tracks or the new gang being formed called "The Rats". Geldof chalked on a large blackboard that was on the wall behind the stage in Bolton St the words BOOMTOWN RATS. The band was born. After this gig the band got an encore. They were booked for a gig a fortnight later in Poulaphuca, Co Wicklow. This was a sell out and at this stage Geldof's personal friend Fachtna O'Kelly who was the manager of a softer, traditional act, Clannad, heard the band, ate a meal with them and took on the job of taking them to the top.

PictureAdvert from In Dublin magazine

31/10/1975 Bolton St College of Technology, Dublin This was the "Rats" first gig at the time they were known as the "Nightlife Thugs". This is believed to be the only gig they played under this name.

19/11/1975 Poulaphuca, Co Wicklow. This gig was a complete sell out.

00/03/1976 National Stadium, Dublin with Focus. The Rats step in at the last minute as the support band, Focus play other dates in Ireland including Cork & Belfast, but the Rats only plaid support on the Dublin. Many fans write to the local press complaining about the view. The way the amps were set up restricted the view of most fans, leaving them with a view of the back of a stack of amps instead of the band
24/04/1976 Smokey Joe's Cafe, UCG

27/04/1976 Moran's Hotel, Dublin

29/05/1976 Smokey Joe's Cafe, UCG

31/05/1976 Liberty Hall, Dublin with Skid Row. Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy fame was a former member of Skid Row.

29/06/1976 Moran's Hotel, Dublin


“Geldof’s between song patter has been equally problematic. Maybe he’s got his finger on what “the kids” (to use an expression of his own) want, and it’s simply down to delivering the goods – but that “We’re gonna be SO BIG, you won’t believe it”………….. “We’re gonna make it. We’re gonna have three number ones before we come back here”……….. line is just dumb. And if anybody’s got the notion embedded in their skulls that this’ll go down a bomb in England and beyond, then I sincerely hope they’re wrong. It says little for anyone’s intelligence that it’s gone on this long, this far.” Niall Stokes, Scene, March 1977

“The Boomtown Rats story. Well, since it broke, you and I and anyone else who gives a curse about the state of the play in the local music thing, have been subject to a barrage of reports and counter reports, rumour and counter rumour, to the point where it’s becomes a real piss – off.” Niall Stokes, Scene, March 1977

“I suspect that the Rats will break. But with the rate at which they’ve been going so far, if they don’t do it fast, disillusion and dry rot may set in. It’d be ironic, and chastening from the point of view of local musicians, that the very speed – the maniac intensity – with which they set out to do their thing and take it to the highest level in the rock circus may carry the seeds of their ultimate crashdown.” Niall Stokes, Scene, March 1977

Falling Asunder Tour

This was Ireland's first ever New Wave/Punk Rock tour, opening the way for other "punk rock" bands from Dublin to play the other towns & cities of Ireland. Up till this time only "Showbands" and Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher & Horslips had been able to play venues outside of Dublin. The 3 bands would each take a turn to be the headline act, they arranged the tour and booked the venues themselves. The concerts would last 4 hours each night, opening in Gorey at the Little Theatre, and finishing in Drogheda.

Falling Asunder National Tour

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14/07/1976 Little Theatre, Gorey with Nightbus, Cheap Thrills

15/07/1976 Atlantic Ballroom, Tramore with Nightbus, Cheap Thrills

16/07/1976 Clonmel, with Cheap Thrills, Nightbus

17/07/1976 Newbridge, with Nightbus, Cheap Thrills

18/07/1976 Cork, with Nightbus, Cheap Thrills

19/07/1976 Killarney, with Cheap Thrills, Nightbus

20/07/1976 Tralee, with Cheap Thrills, Nightbus

21/07/1976 Limerick, with Cheap Thrills, Nightbus

22/07/1976 Westport, with Cheap Thrills, Nightbus

23/07/1976 Hotel Ormond, Nenagh with Nightbus, Cheap Thrills

24/07/1976 Galway, with Cheap Thrills, Nightbus

25/07/1976 Athlone, with Cheap Thrills, Nightbus

28/07/1976 National Stadium, Dublin with Nightbus, Cheap Thrills

29/07/1976 Dundalk, with Nightbus, Cheap Thrills

30/07/1976 Drogheda, with Nightbus, Cheap Thrills


Moran's Hotel, Dublin

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Moran's Hotel & Project adverts from In Dublin

07/08/1976 Pavilion, Dun Laoghaire

20/08/1976 Cliffcastle Hotel, Killiney

21/08/1976 Moran's Hotel, Dublin this is their last Dublin gig, before a short tour in Europe.“The Boomtown Rats, topping the bill, were frenzied, noisy and repetitive.” Julian Vignoles, Scene, August 1976

28-29/08/1976 "Much More" festival Mullingar with Arthur Phybes Band, Full Circle, Jimmy Slevin, Naima, Clannad

24/09/1976 Subway Bar

25/09/1976 Whites, Wexford

02/10/1976 Moran's Hotel, Dublin The Rats first concert back in Dublin, is recorded for a live album.

08/10/1976 Project Arts Centre, Dublin


First London Gigs

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Sounds gig guide

24/11/1976 Hope & Anchor, London

25/11/1976 Hope & Anchor, London

Some reports in the Irish press mention that the Rats played some dates in Europe, and recorded some tracks in Holland. I have not found anything to confirm these reports.


Returning To Dublin

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Flyer supplied by Niki O'Neill

11/12/1976 Moran's Hotel, Dublin

27/12/1976 Tudor Rooms, Kytler's Inn, Kilkenny Niki O'Neill Smiley, Alfie and I ran the gig in Kyteler's for quite a while until the Beer Garden was closed by the fire officer. Can't give you precise dates but poss '74, def '75 into '76....
Looking over them now, many of the bands were fairly local but others came down from Dublin. I remember Smiley brought me to Moran's to see the Boomtown Rats and we invited them to play in Kilkenny (see printing error on the flyer - the 'Bootstown Rats'- the printer and most people who came on the night had never heard of them). Admission was 50p and I seem to recall that the total take that night was £80....
Sorry, I feel a bout of nostalgia coming on.....

07/01/1977 Burren Mount Hotel, Galway. This concert was a sell out

15/02/1977 Moran's Hotel, Dublin. According to reports in the Irish Press "Johnny Fingers" was seen defacing the posters for these two concerts.


PictureAdvert from Dublin Evening Press

16/02/1977 Moran's Hotel, Dublin. These two concerts at Moran's Hotel were due to be the Rats farewell Dublin Gigs.

25/02/1977 Leisureland, Galway. The Boomtown Rats stood in for George Hamilton IV, who pulled out of the gig at short notice. The was dogged by poor sound quality.

10/03/1977 Moran's Hotel, Dublin with The Radiators From Space. This was the Rats farewell Dublin gig, before going off to tour the UK. The concert was in aid of Dublin's Project Arts Centre.
“Geldof’s between song patter has been equally problematic. Maybe he’s got his finger on what “the kids” (to use an expression of his own) want, and it’s simply down to delivering the goods – but that “We’re gonna be SO BIG, you won’t believe it”………….. “We’re gonna make it. We’re gonna have three number ones before we come back here”……….. line is just dumb. And if anybody’s got the notion embedded in their skulls that this’ll go down a bomb in England and beyond, then I sincerely hope they’re wrong. It says little for anyone’s intelligence that it’s gone on this long, this far.” Niall Stokes, Scene, March 1977

“The Boomtown Rats story. Well, since it broke, you and I and anyone else who gives a curse about the state of the play in the local music thing, have been subject to a barrage of reports and counter reports, rumour and counter rumour, to the point where it’s becomes a real piss – off.” Niall Stokes, Scene, March 1977

“I suspect that the Rats will break. But with the rate at which they’ve been going so far, if they don’t do it fast, disillusion and dry rot may set in. It’d be ironic, and chastening from the point of view of local musicians, that the very speed – the maniac intensity – with which they set out to do their thing and take it to the highest level in the rock circus may carry the seeds of their ultimate crashdown.” Niall Stokes, Scene, March 1977


Neon Hearts

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For a short while in early 1977 Simon Crowe left the Rats. He was replaced by Dave Moloney, who would later join another Dublin band the Vipers. Dave had answered an advert Bob Geldof has placed in the Dublin evening paper. Although he never played a gig with the Rats, Dave can be herd playing with the Rats on the first 10 tracks of the “Neon Hearts” demo tape. On the back cover of this tape there is a message from Bob Geldof saying "Good luck with the Vipers Dave". 

Returning Home To Ireland

Picture21/12/1977 Tivoli Theatre, Dublin with Sacre Bleu. These two concerts were moved to the Stella Cinema, as the Dublin City Council would not give the Tivoli Theatre a licence for the Boomtown Rats concert. Sarah Edwards oh yes being backstage with the rats at the Stella Cinema Rathmines, Paula Yates had a leopardskin top on and loads of moles on her back.

22/12/1977 Tivoli Theatre, Dublin with Sacre Bleu. Dave Moloney The Stella did not have any dressing rooms, the band had a room down the street, to change in, then walked to the Stella. Paula Yates was hanging with the band, she was not Bobs girlfriend at this time, Pete had pulled down her Leopardskin top and commented on her boobs "nice".
24/12/1977 Moran's Hotel, Dublin The Rats, Radiators & Horslips have a jam

28/12/1977 Student Union, Belfast with Pretty Boy Floyd. Review from Alternative Ulster. Ratting All Over The World

(or if in the future, everyone’s gonna be famous for 15 minutes, then Bob Geldof will get half an hour).
At last..... The Rats come to Belfast & A.U. was at Queen’s in force to bring ya the fax, & interview wiv’ all the Rats including, especially, some v. Intelligent, interesting, and many critical wurd’s from Bob Geldof himself. Well, to business. First, gig;
The Scene; large queues outside the Union building & losta bottles being hurled – about 45% nurds (there were so many flares (sporting hippie – types within) that you could’ve lit up ½ of Belfast!) (geddit?)
Inside; and support band .......er.......Candy (hysterical laughter)............ now calling themselves the equally stupid name of “Pretty Boy Floyd” (uncontrollable mirth) were already on. Musically they were excellent, BUT!.................they plaid Led Zep. (Puke) an half the nurds were pogoing to it (jeez!)................high point was when singer bust his axe (yawn) very quaint!..............................nuff said!
Rats came on greeted by deafening cheers from the true punx at the front & indifference from the “Dufflecoat Brigade” huddled together on the right of the hall. The Rats played all the stuff off the Album but kept the classics “Mary” & “No1” till the end. They did sum noo material which sounded v. Srong indeed – “don’t believe wot you read” (attacking the press) and “She’s So 20th Century” (or Modern Girl” was it?) (scorning the poseurs & the people who are so hip & modern). They came back for 2 encores (totally deserved) – did “Born To Burn” & “Barefootin”, “She’s Gonna Do You In” & another (forget what it was). Throughout, Geldof, in great showmanship style, kept up a lively rapport with the crowd who were luvin’ every minute of it (me included). He used this rap to lead up to/introduce each song; “you all know Johnnie Fingers over there?, well on our way into Belfast today, we were stopped by the army & the soldier saw Johnnie in his pyjamas – he asked him why he was wearing ‘em – was he just out of bed? No! Had he escaped from hospital? No! Then why? & Johnnie answered _ “Because it feels..................So Strange!”
It was really amazing the the power/control he had over the crowd – at one stage he pointed over to the right side of the hall & singled out the hippies/poseurs & even got the spotlights turned onto them – they were scoreved & jeered & really embarrassed & Geldof shouted “we come here an play to you (speakin to the true fanz) & you play to us. But they play to no – one! – gt. Moment!
Geldof also did the old “we’ve got representatives from the press here tonite” bit & went on “and the papers all have one thing in common – THEY ALL........TELL....................LIES! They don’t let you think for yourselves so don’t believe what you read (another great intro for the next No) Then the other ritual, y’know; “This is a song from our chart – topping album – there’s only 1 thing wrong it ain’t topping the charts any more so that meanz that a lota you fuckers out there haven’t bought it yet! Now we’ve arranged wiv’ your local record shop for you to go down at 11 O’clock tomorrow morning an buy a copy of our album so that you’ll all make us rich boys, alright?” – The Rats don’t make any secret of the fact that they’re in this lark for the money (the rest do! How’s Aston Martin running this weather mister Rotten sir? Is the fur coat to sir’s liking, Mr McLaren? etc).  But the crowd don’t care – they luv it an’ shout back “alrite!” it’s humour, maaaaaaaaan, and fun – that’s ½ of what punk’s about, though strictly speakin’ The Rats ain’t Punk, but more of that later. “Doin’ The Rat” could become a national (worldwide?) cult, if Geldof has anything to do with it – he had 5 fanz up on stage “Ratting” with him & generally making fools of themselves but they didn’t mind. The Rats ended the nite amazingly with “For Auld Lang Syne” & Geldof shouting “See You All Again In March!”
It took me an’ Hugh quite a while to see the lads after the gig but eventually we got backstage & one by one The Rats emerged from the dressing room (broom cupboard?) & we had informal chats/interviews/arguments with all members of the band.


30/12/1977 City Hall, Cork with Scare Bleu

31/12/1977 Leisureland, Galway all full house of 2,500 attend this  concert with Scare Bleu

01/01/1978 St John's Hall, Limerick with Scare Bleu

24/03/1978 Lyceum Ballroom, London

29/03/1978 Greyhound, Croydon

01/04/1978 Pavillion, West Runcton


Image supplied by Dave Moloney

11/06/1978 Olympia Theatre, Dublin with The Vipers. According to the Irish press the Rats played two concerts, one in the afternoon & one on the night.

13/06/1978 Ulster Hall, Belfast with The Vipers Dave Moloney "We (The Vipers) were sat out front watching the Rats do their sound check, when Bob and the band suddenly stopped playing. Phil Lynott was stood behind us, he said to Bob when you going to move that pile of crap, we need to get our two lorries into the car park, we sold out two nights here". "Phil & Bob had that sort of great friend ship".

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Leixlip Castle
18/02/1980 Ulster Hall, Belfast
19/02/1980 Ulster Hall, Belfast

22/02/1980 Dublin Dome, Leopardstown Racecourse (this gig was cancelled by Dublin City Council).23/02/1980 Dublin Dome, Leopardstown Racecourse (this gig was cancelled by Dublin City Council).

02/03/1980 Leixlip Castle, Dublin NME review by Niall Stokes After weeks of legal wrangling and public confusion, the Boomtown Rats finally found a home for their return to Dublin in the spacious grounds of Leixlip Castle. A more unlikely location of the Rats achievement in taking on the combined
forces of ignorance, prejudice and misunderstanding and finally coming out on top would have been hard to imagine - but then that's a reflection of just how badly off Dublin has been for venues.
Throughout the sorry mess preceding the gig, the Rats had been cast in the role of flag-bearers for a culture so obviously seen as a threat by the local establishment. The Rats are to the Irish what the Grundy-era Pistols were to the British, simply because Bob Geldof is prepared to puncture as manysacred cows as he can with every opportunity he gets to talk in public. Allied to that is the fact that the band are hugely successful, and you have what amounts to a potentially powerful vehicle for influencing teenage sons and daughters.
That the Rats music doesn't deliver on this level is neither here no there to those who wouldn't know the difference between Showaddywaddy and the MC5; they're "punk rockers", and that's enough. But it's undeniable, nonetheless; the one specifically pointed comment the Rats make on the environment from which they sprang comes in "Rat Trap", which in the context gained added impact, providing a musical high matched only by "I Don't Like Mondays".
But given the public concern about security preceding the gig there was another irony here, as the band had to stop in the middle of their most emotional and compelling statement to have a spectator removed from the lighting rig. "We don't mind you dancing but we don't want you killing yorselves", Geldof commented.
In factthe security on the day was generally sloppy and inept, with a series of fights breaking out at the front, the stage being scaled on a number of occasions and a general feeling of uneasiness. Again it was ironic that, in thee end, this projection, should be the major cause of the Rats less than satisfactory performance although the fact that the stage, sound and lighting had been erected in less than 36 hours didn't help either. There just wasn't enough volume on Pete Briquette's bass, Gerry Cott's guitar or Simon Crowe's drums to reach those at the back of the 14,000 strong crowd, while Geldof's vocals were frequently lost in the mix.
They may have beaten the system, but they'll hardly be happy with the end result.

Dirty Weekend

A Short lived band put together by Pete Briquette

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Advert from Hot Press
Huw Gower In London SW6 in early October 1980, Pete Briquette, Jane Aire, Alan Platt and myself dreamed up the idea of 'Dirty Weekend' ; ostensibly a 'for fun' 'side-project' live band that would play R&B cover songs best suited to Jane's great voice.
Pete arranged a short tour for us in Ireland over the first weekend in November. We prepared a set of mostly Mowtown tunes that ran about 45 minutes,plus an encore number or maybe two.
Whist this was sufficient material,for headlining a well-received gig on a Saturday night in Dublin; a Boomtown Rat stepping out with his talented Detroit chanteuse!
We were totally unprepared for what was expected of us, as with any professional band working the venues into which we had been inadvertently booked. Our meagre repertoire was never going to fill 3 sets.
Perhaps he had reckoned on his status as a Boomtown Rat to save the day. It didn't. Jane is a great pop vocalist, Alan was so right for the tunes she chose, such a soulful drummer; Pete completely ignored and failed to inform us of what would be expected of us as an 'Irish Showband'. I began to get an insight years later when playing guitar with the great Sean Fleming.
So Alan and I quit the tour before the gig that is referenced on this web page. I don't know who was pretending to be me that night, I'm not at all familiar with the song that he sang either, but I have a great new band called IceCream Skyscraper that I hope you'll give a listen to.
The highlight of the tour was probably  the Saturday night ;we headlined at a club in Dublin. The band, Jane, Pete, Alan & myself played a solid 45 minute set  of Motown/Stax covers that went over well enough to be called back to encore with the Isley Brothers' 'Shout'.  At the end of the night Alan and I were dropped off at our 'hotel', a godawful room in a shitty boarding house way way out in West Dublin, absolutely devoid of any amenities save for 2 broken twin beds and an electric light.
The back story here is that Alan's wife was at the time 9 months pregnant with triplets (seriously), and it was only with a firm guarantee of a hotel room with a telephone from Briquette that he very reluctantly agreed to honour his commitment,
The babies were born the day after we arrived.
Pete's panacea was to have a roadie offer Alan some heroin.
So things then went from bad to worse upon arriving at the gig next day when we were informed that we'd be required to play 3 45 minute sets, starting at midnight.  No amount of writhing around on stage with a Beatle bass is going to make everything hunky dory, sorry Pete.
With specific regard to his limited repertoire and competence as a bass player, Briquette should NEVER have booked this gig. Nor the ones that followed.   At this point, not a shred of camaraderie remained.
The good parts:  seeing the fantastic western coastline of Ireland in November; spending the night in a beautiful hotel in Sligo; travelling in the band van back to Dublin late at night on a road that ran from the republic through the Northern sector; arriving at a border checkpoint  where heavily armed British soldiers isolated and searched us & our vehicle inside an enclosed steel shed. HM Govt. taxes at work.   Memorable stuff, at least to me, both then & now.
So we bailed early that morning, caught the morning ferry.
So now you know!
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