The Tossers – the Hi-Dive, Champaign, IL (2002)

“I can’t tell your songs from the traditionals, and that’s the highest compliment I can give.” So said my buddy Andy, a native of England/Scotland to Tony Duggins, lead singer of the Tossers. You could tell Tony was suitably impressed, as that is, I’m assuming, one of the Tossers goals – to be talked about in the same breath as the legends, and when it’s all said and done – Tony can tell tales in dark, dank bars – tales that go ‘hey, we wuz there, too, on the front line. And we made an impact…And we were good. Good enough for some drunken ex-pat one night, at the very least.’ It was good to see hometown boys The Tossers back in Champaign.
I don’t even know if there was an opening band. Could care less. I got there right as Tony and co. took the stage. Here I must add that since the last time I’ve seen the fellas, they’ve added a fiddler player, who is not only shit-hot on the fiddle, but just plain shit-hot. Great pick up, boys. Speaking of the band, they were as tight as ever on this night, too bad the crowd couldn’t keep up.

Yeah, the crowd was a bit mellow tonight, and even Tony’s drunken taunting didn’t get a lot of them moving. It could’ve been because it was an ‘early’ show and there was a fruity-ass rave DJ coming on after them, or it could’ve been the lack of drunken hooligans in the house, but it wasn’t as crazy as it could’ve been.

To be honest, the show was awhile back, I was drunk and the set-list in it’s entirety has escaped me – but I do know that the Tossers usual repertoire of Poguesy originals were in the house – “Buckets of Beer” “When You Get Here” “The Crutch” and “Mad Riot.” All sounded as good as ever, some even resulting in beer showers, and the usual covers were in effect as well with “The Irish Rover” among others.

In the end, the Tossers were cut short by some pud that was worried that the DJ was getting restless. And so ended a night when the Tossers were, as usual, up for it, but the crowd and the ambience of the evening just couldn’t keep up – like a college boy drinking with Shane.

After the set, we knocked back a few with the band, but as it was an early show’s end, they decided to head north for Chi-town. The mood was suitably high, thanks to the band, so we finished drinking and headed to the local Irish watering hole, Mike and Molly’s, and commented that hopefully next time the crowd is as up for it as the Tossers always are. No excuses next time, Champaign.

Review by Sean Holland

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