While the Gunners were pleasing their fans at Wembley, The Rifles were pleasing theirs at Highbury, or Islington to be more precise.
The London band finished the England leg of their unplugged tour with a hometown concert at Islington Assembly Hall on 27 May 2017.
With increased security and a football match on, there were very few people in the venue to see opening act Frankie Forman, perform a selection of songs, accompanied by The Vex guitarist Jack O’Shea. She was easy on the eyes and ears, proving that turning up to a gig early is always advisable.
Continuing with the acoustic theme New Street Adventure’s Nick Corbin did a solo set of songs of great social and political import.
By the time The Rifles were ready to hit the stage it was now obvious that the show had sold out, and the chanting for the band was resembling Wembley. Although not strictly unplugged – or no one beyond the first couple of rows would have heard anything – nor strictly acoustic due to the presence of a Fender Telecaster, in spirit it was.
Being completely unfamiliar with the band’s cannon, I couldn’t join the crowd in singing along, which is just as well for anyone within earshot. This crowd participation is something I haven’t seen since watching Frank Turner. Apart from the lack of Turner’s energy, there was a similar vibe and musicality to this gig, with The Rifles adding a string section later in the gig, making full use of the Assembly Hall’s opulence and acoustics.
The Rifles will be playing at Camden Rocks Festival on June 3.