Michael O'Doherty: Bob Geldof's Penneys rant shows he's a Rat caught in an elderly rocker trap
Bob Geldof’s trademark grumpy demeanour reveals a dissatisfaction with what he considers to be the many frustrations of life, Mondays being perhaps the best known.
Clever, articulate, never afraid to speak his mind, and even less averse to showcasing his impressive ability to swear, Geldof’s always been box office.
It has made him a favourite of chat show hosts. On Gay Byrne’s The Meaning of Life, he peppered a weighty discussion about faith with opinions such as Jesus being “a pain in the ass”.
Bob has always given the impression of someone who has retained the fire in his belly that led him to form The Boomtown Rats over 40 years ago, and has steadfastly refused to grow old gracefully. Having amassed a small fortune through his media company in the intervening time, Bob decided three years ago to return to his first love – The Rats – by touring with them again for the first time in nearly 30 years.
The group’s travels took them last weekend to the Brentwood Festival in Essex, where Bob caused quite a stir by turning on the audience, whom he obviously felt were a tad middle class for his taste.
“We are mega, you are Brentwood,” he said. “How do we know that you are Brentwood? I am wearing a f***-off pretend snakeskin suit ... On the other hand, Brentwood you are wearing wall-to-wall f*****g Primark. When you come to a rock ’n roll festival, dress for a rock and roll festival.”
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It seems strangely superficial of Geldof, a man who has railed against such laziness all his life, to judge someone by what they’re wearing, and to declare a sense of superiority over them simply because he’s splashed out on a fake snake-skin suit.
It seems even stranger to believe that he was at a “rock and roll festival,” as such a belief would imply that his faculties are becoming somewhat dulled by old age.
If he had cared to look around, he’d have discovered that the main acts at Brentwood were his contemporaries from the mists of time such as ABC, Level 42 and Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet, all recently exhumed to wring a few quid from the nostalgia market, gigging for fans who want to be reminded of the 80s rather than the fact that they’re a few months shy of picking up a free bus pass.
Yes, you may have been “mega” in the 1970s, Bob, but right now you’re two months shy of being a pensioner. You may certainly have been rock ‘n roll at some stage, but this weekend you’re down at a polite, mid-summer, middle class music festival featuring the oldest swingers in town, sharing the stage with balding, pot-bellied groovers going through the motions.
Next month will see the Rats performing at Leopardstown Raceourse, a gig to which, Geldof may be interested to know, OAPs can gain entry for a reduced fee of €10. So go easy on your audience that night, Bob. After all, they’ve taken a night off from the bingo hall to support you ...