As the bass player hovered the fretboard of his instrument in front of the amplifier to create some booming feedback, Rikers opened their set at Lee’s Palace with all the intensity of the intro to an epic 80s action movie. The epic and 80s factor were then amped up several more notches as lead singer Ryan Kennedy stepped up to the microphone wearing the furry tail of an animal strung around his neck, over his leather jacket. (Let’s hope that was fake fur.) Kennedy completes the glam rock frontman package as he starts singing and owning the stage with a voice and a performance which only increases in intensity as the set moves on. And intensity is the word.
The second song “I’m on the Radio”, has that rather bland message of intent [and future proclamation] for a chorus lyric but everything around it is less stale. By the third song (“Situation”?), the angular guitar, backing harmonies and lead hook sound like something that can be sold. And the audience are definitely starting to buy it. As the crowd grows (with many turning up to see The Reason, who were on next) and the beer flows, so does the appreciation and enthusiasm for Rikers.
Rikers blend their elements well and play to their strengths, with the musicians complementing each other. Driving 80s keyboard cruise in and out beside the guitar, bass and the drums, creating many rises and falls, and always building to a climax. It’s race car pop music for broken, love-suffering souls.
In the middle of the set, a “live in the moment and say what you really mean for one, just for one day, be true” speech to the crowd by Kennedy was actually more eloquent and striking than I can paraphrase. This only added to the intensity of Kennedy’s performance, as he led Rikers to a finish with a falling-to-his-knees-into-dead-stare performance. Every song was an ‘epic’; that is, full of drama. At times – like during one song when Kennedy seemed to sing just one word “fascination”, over and over, as the lone lyric, atop climbing bassline riffs – the forlorn 80s vibe of the band wore a wee bit thin, but this is what Rikers are about: Some bands write songs, others write anthems.
© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice
Photos of Rikers at Lee’s Palace:
Rikers join The Big Wreck on tour in late April and May.
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