Neck were back in the USA, “Loud’n’Proud’n”Bold” for their forth US tour in just over a year with a completely new backing band (are Neck the Whitesnake of Celtic Punk and if so then is Leeson, Dave Coverdale and Marie then Tawnie Kitten?), an older, more mature and tighter group then the previous line up.
The Burren is arguably the finest venue for traditional Irish music in the North East if not the entire country. In the front bar there is a trad. session 7 nights a week and the back room usually plays host to national and international folk and roots rock bands.
The back room was almost full when Neck took the stage at about 10.30, Leeson cracking a joke that most of the audience would clear out within 30 seconds of them starting, almost a true statement as within the first three songs most of the casuals, after work crowd and those with more mellow taste cleared out to the sanctuary of the front bar, and by the end of the night it was just those who had come for Neck and a drunk Texan red neck screaming for a guitar solo. Neck have really turned up the guitars way past eleven since the Psycho-Ceile EP taking cue from the Dropkick Murphys and especially Flogging Molly (right down to a cover of “The Worst Day Since Yesterday” with some C&W guitar), though I do think they have lost a little of the punkieness of before, now hidden somewhere behind the guitars. Leeson’s, on stage banter was as entertaining as ever (if you can get beyond the accent) and Marie McCormick is definitely one of the best trad. musicians on any scene. The set was a mix of originals from PC, Necked and the upcoming CD, Irish standards punked up (A man you don’t.., Foggy Dew, Sean South, Star of the County Down, Fields of Athenry, Back Home in Derry) and an impromptu version of Fairytale of New York tacked on to the end of the set. Biggest complaints was the sound gremlins causing much fiddling around between songs by the band and the fifteen minuets interval mid set that to me seemed to cause the band to loose a lot of momentum and take away from what could be a very powerful live set.
In summary I really think Neck will be the next big band to break thru to (almost) the big time like FM and DKM, with some luck, hard work and a label willing to put some dollars into getting them there.