Citizens of Boomtown: The Story of the Boomtown Rats

Citizens of Boomtown: The Story of the Boomtown Rats
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Review

“There was no future in the country… rage was the animus, rage was the driver of the band. Still is.” Bob Geldof is talking about the foundation of his band the Boomtown Rats in 1975 Dublin, but it was also the fuel that powered their hits and his activism via Band Aid a decade later. In Billy McGrath’s feature-length rock-doc the archive film is so extensive that it almost tells the story alone, but the depth and quality of contribution is impressive, too, from Sinéad O’Connor and Sting to Bono and Steve “New York Dolls” Conte.

Little aces up the sleeve include seeing the dole card he scrawled his first lyrics on one miserable day in Dun Laoghaire, and the words to She’s So Modern that he jotted in biro on the Tube, partly about his wife-to-be Paula Yates. And if a social conscience sparked their biggest songs like Rat Trap and I Don’t Like Mondays, there was energy and humour, too (Geldof miming to a sax break by playing a candelabra).

Brash outspokenness made the frontman enemies but many more friends (we see a man leap up on stage at a Rats gig and punch him, but the bloodied singer just carries on) and ultimately, it made a difference to millions. It’s a propulsive tale of Boom and bust – and improbable resurgence.

Summary

Documentary telling the story of the Irish band led by Bob Geldof, who scored hits in the late 1970s and early 80s with the likes of Rat Trap and I Don't Like Mondays, before disbanding a year after Geldof's hugely successful Live Aid event in 1985. The group reformed in 2013 and released their seventh studio album in March 2020.

Cast & Crew

Director Billy McGrath
Editor Michael O'Sullivan
Producer Billy McGrath
Documentary Music