The Rifles / Switches - High Voltage @ Manchester Roadhouse - 18.5.06

Asked on tour by the Rifles Designer Magazine knows little about Switches apart from a few tracks on Myspace. Increasingly as is becoming the mondus operandi, bands are building up their fanbase first and touring later avoiding the embarrassing situation where bands would play out of town gigs to one man and his dog. It also helps that Switches first Manchester gig is part of the High Voltage nights which have brought early shows from the likes of The Feeling, The Bravery and Forward Russia amongst a host of others.

To look at Switches are a blank canvass giving nothing away about their sound which will in turn be as much as a help as a hindrance. In these modern times people always like the easy option and if they can see mini-Libertines or Monkeys action dolls in action it's a lot easier than saying we just don't know how this band are going to sound like. With a host of influences from Bowie through to 70s powerpop such as Cheap Trick. Modern reference points include Suede, Silversun and on the single "Lay Down The Law" they manage to mix The Zutons with Franz Ferdinand. With more tunes than you can shake you tic tacs expect to hear a hell of a lot more of Switches in the near future.

By the end of tonight's set The Rifles ear for quality tuneage have sent the crowd into a frenzy which shows all the signs that they could follow The Libertines and The Arctic Monkeys into the nations most wanted. Their 3rd appearance in Manchester in just over two months the band have build up a following supporting the hotly tipped Sheffield band Milburn and The Dead 60s and tonights audience reflects the diversity from a young buff Phillip Olivier lookalike to older fans who realize that Weller lost it the moment he started Style Council.

Despite only releasing a couple of singles the audience know every word and drops the mancunian twang in favour of the cockney phrasing. Although the band can be traced back to the lineage of The Libertines and The Jam and are Londoners through and through the lyrical subjects have a mass appeal which spreads further than the river Thames. "One Night Stand" sounds like the Jam, "Home Town Blues" features some nifty Johnny Marr guitar riffs, "She's The Only One" slows things down for a midtempo Passengers style ballad, "Robin Hood" is hotter than The Libertines and "Peace & Quiet" is crying out to be re-released as a single to smash all singles.

When you have quality singles like "Repeated Offender" and "She's Got Standards" and the rest of the set equals if not betters then the ascent is a certainty. What the Rifles excel in is writing ever song as a single and every album as a greatest hits collection and while it's early days for these guy they could just be one of the major players this time next year.

Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride

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