Category Archives: Live

Stiff Little Fingers and Lost City Angels – The Paradise, Boston (September 6, 2001)

Irish punk legends Stiff Little Fingers started their fall American tour at the Paradise – a Boston club they haven’t played since their first Stateside trip, 21 years ago.

Some of the NFL’s New England Patriots made the Paradise notorious a few years back when they stage-dived onto regular-size people at an Everclear concert. It’s understandable how a brutal, high-octane band like Everclear can whip anyone into a stage-diving frenzy; nonetheless the negative attention led authorities to close the Paradise for code violations.Now back in business, the Paradise looks exactly like it did before the closing, with its polished, Euro-hip decor. The joint may host techno dancing much of the time, but it can be a great venue for infrequent big punk shows. The room is fairly small and shallow, with its wide stage looming nearby wherever you stand, creating anintimate atmosphere. Tonight it was sold out. Younger scenesters and fans filled the floor, and the old fogies milled up on the balcony.

Lost City Angels were a perfect choice to open. The talented five-piece band of punks play upbeat, melodic hard rock songs on the long side with tight arrangements and cool dynamics. A lot of the kids up front sang and shouted along as the singer, a natural-born performer, and the harmonizing bassist belted out their original anthems. The crowd was suitably warmed up when LCA finished.

On a Celtic punk note, the sound guy played the Tossers, among other music, over the P.A. during the agonizingly long set change.

Finally, everybody’s favorite ‘80s-Irish-mulleted little guys took the stage in matching “Stiff Little Fingers” soccer jerseys with their respective last names stitched on the backs. The crowd went nuts to a few old hits like “Nobody’s Hero.” Explaining that they’re hoping to get a new record deal, the band soon trotted out several brand-new songs, not one of them bad ordifferent from what you’d expect. A standout was the slow reggae number “Listen to Your Heart.”

The last new song Jake prefaced with “I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of seeing five young boys in vests doing backflips and calling that music…this is a song called ‘I Believe In the Power of Guitar and Drum.’” The anti-MTV anthemic ode to rock and roll snapped the crowd out of their temporary funk, the song’s sentiment alone getting fans to pogo again. “I see we’re of like mind on that one,” Jake said as the band finished to loud roars.

Next up was “No Surrender,” and a fight broke out. The combatants were quickly ejected. “To our more boisterous brethren up front,” Jake good-naturedly chided at the end of the song, “We’re up here singing about reconciliation and peace, and you’re fighting! Get a boxing license.” Soon SLF kicked into awesome mode with a string of old hits: “Wasted Life,” “Fly the Flag,” “Tin Soldiers,” and finally “Alternative Ulster.” Pogoing and singing along were at all-time highs. Their set had already clocked in at an hour and five minutes, but the boys came back for an encore, covering the Clash’s “White Riot” and closing with “At the Edge.”

It seems that over two decades SLF have lost none of their energy. Jake’s singing voice is as plaintive and hopeful as ever. And the band seemed as happy and excited to be up on stage playing as the crowd was to see them.

By Pat Kennedy

The Town Pants – Newport Irish Festival (September 6, 2010)

September 7, 2010

The Newport Irish festival is a really great little festival. Always a decent line up, not too big and you don’t feel hosed by the grubby, penny grabbers that usually run these type of things.

This year I headed down on the Labor Day Monday and caught the last day of the 3-dayer. Saw about 1/2 the set from the Screaming Orphans, an all girl/sister, trad-pop group from Ireland – decent but way too much paddy wack banter between songs – the type of shite that Irish people think the Yanks love but makes me cringe.

Also caught the tail end of the Tartan Terrors set, a Celtic rock’n’bagpipes outfit from Canada – good music and good banter and some off beat humor.

The Town Pants have become the de facto headlines of the festival and were definitely the band most of the punters were there to see – me included. This was their 4th visit to the Newport festival and 74th day of their present tour so they were well oiled and much anticipated – they did not disappoint. From their opener – The Weight of Words – to their final – Breakfast with St. Swithin – they played fast and loud. They even managed to get in covers of Bad Religion and Iron Maiden and still keep the 7 to 77 set and all the soccer moms and aging rockers in between happy and screaming for more – don’t believe me check out the videos.

Flogging Molly – Trocadero Theater, Philadelphia (FEBRUARY 8, 2001)

The openers for Flogging Molly were mediocre. The first band, World/Inferno Friendship Society were good the first time I saw them at the Pontiac Grille with River City High, but this time around they didn’t impress me. The lead singer breathed fire and one of the percussionists set her cymbals aflame, but I thought they’d do more than that since they were in a bigger space (unlike the tiny Pontiac Grille stage). They still churned out some decent songs, most of which are a combination of punk and swing.

The World/Inferno Friendship Society was not as bad as the second act, Chicago’s Blue Meanies. I was told that they were a ska/punk type of band, but I didn’t hear any ska beats. I was also turned off when the lead singer sang through a bullhorn for a few songs. I had a feeling I wasn’t the only one who was turned off by them, as I noticed they hardly got any crowd reaction at all.

Finally, Flogging Molly came out and opened up with “Every Dog Has Its Day”. The song started off slow, and then the tempo got fast and whipped the mosh pit into a fury of people slam dancing and doing Irish jigs. (Flogging Molly is an Irish/Celtic folk punk band.)

The septet gave off a tremendous amount of energy, especially front man Dave King, who kept drinking from a pitcher of Guinness all night. He was a joy to watch, especially when he put down his acoustic guitar and danced during the guitar solo in “Black Friday Rule”. The bands showcased two new songs which I think were “Rebels of the Sacred Heart” and “Death Valley Queen”.

I was extremely happy when they played “Devil’s Dance Floor”, because the first time I saw Flogging Molly play back in December, they didn’t get to play it. My favorite songs, “Salty Dog, Selfish Man”, and “Life in a Tenement Square”, were played as well. The highlight of the evening was when the band played “Delilah”. When the chorus came up, the lights were turned on the audience, which prompted them to sing along. They were eventually told by security to end the show, but the crowd just kept chanting “Ole!,” wanting them to play more. I thought the concert was really over since the house lights were on, but then the band did come back on stage and closed with “Sentimental Johnny”.

Flogging Molly is one of the best live bands today. They never grow tired of playing and always keep the crowd moving.Thanks to Lauren Dayap for the review.

Tommy & The Terrors, Hudson Falcons, The Skels, Darkbuster: The Middle East, Cambridge MA (JUly 28, 2001)

There were a lot of reasons to make tonight’s sold out show a great one; a Tommy & the Terrors/Darkbuster split CD release party, a Boston v’s New Jersey showdown and ‘Darkbusters’ last ever show.

Tommy & the Terrors
First up were Tommy & the Terrors (wasn’t there an Irish Punk band called Terry and the Terrors once?); now stripped down to a four piece after the departure of guitarist Kevin. Tommy & the Terrors can be best described as “Yobcore”; a cross between Oi, Street Punk with a good dose of old school Boston hardcore played with the f**k you attitude of a soccer hooligan. A good live set which included a great Bad Brains cover thrown in. If you’re into fast, catchy Street Punk check’em out.

Hudson Falcons
Next up were New Jersey’s Hudson Falcons; a band I really admire. Easily the best of the new Punk band that have arrived on the scene over the last couple of years. Mark Linskey and Co. can easily claim to be the hardest working band in America; two split CD’s a full length CD in the last six months and always f**kin on tour. The Hudson Falcons took control of stage like the road master they are and played a blistering set of Rock’n’Roll influenced Punk. Nice to see “Come out you Black and Tans” back in the set, “The Rat is Dead” ripped some faces off down front and “Alternative Ulster” would have made Jake Burns envious in ’79 let alone 2001.

The Skels
Chants of “Yankee’s Suck”, “Yankee’s Suck”, resonated around the now near full to capacity Middle East as the Jersey flag laden Skels claimed the stage to do battle with the Red Sox nation. The Skels are a bunch of Jersey lad’s playing some of the finest Punk-Folk this side or that side of Hoboken. Anyone who said you can’t mosh to banjos was never at a Skel’s gig.
High points of the set were; the bruising cover of Shane MacGowan’s “Donegal Express”, “Broken Heart in Every Empty Glass” dedicated to Darkbuster, the encore of “South Australia” and Scott Heath keeping his clothes on.
Low points; no “Finest White Girl” (guys I had brought my Ska dancing shoes just for it) and Chris taking his clothes off.

Darkbuster
Let Darkbuster be a warning to you! Don’t ever bring that friend of yours who happens to be a Sawdoctors fan to a punk show. They will jump right into the mosh pit, arms and legs flailing and come out with a busted head so you’ll have to leave with them within five songs. From what I did see of Darkbuster, I just can’t believe it was the first time I’ve ever heard them (and the last). They were excellent, imagine if Blink-182 was any good or Greenday had balls and a fondness for Budweiser only Gang Green in their heyday could match.

Hudson Falcons, Wrong Side of the Tracks – Emerald Isle, Dorchester MA (August 26, 2001)

The Hudson Falcons are like Rock’n’Roll evangelists, spreading their “Punk’n’Roll” gospel throughout the punk revival tents of America. The Hudson Falcons will play anywhere, anytime, whether to two or a thousand of the faithful.

This should have been a review of Ireland’s Blood or Whiskey but due to very last minute visa hassles Blood or Whiskey ended up stranded in Dublin. The Hudson Falcons jumped in at the last minute so a show could go ahead. There was a reasonable turnout considering all the confusion.

The Hudson Falcons provided us with an hour and a quarter of their SFL/Cocksparrer/Springsteen influenced “Shell Shock Rock”. Tonight’s show definitely had a strong Irish bent (to make up for the Blood or Whiskey no show). The rarely played “Brenda Murphy”, “Monahans”, “The Rat is Dead” and of course “Come out you Black and Tans” played with a ferocity that could stop a Wolfe Tones pacemaker (Pat “nimble fingers” Kennedy helped on piano). The new songs fitted in perfectly to the set – even “Sweet Rock’n’Rollin…” in my opinion the weakest track on “For Those…”, was one of the best live along with “Johnny Law”

Check’em out if you haven’t and unlike The Monkey’s they will be coming to you town.

Support was from Wrong Side of the Tracks, it wouldn’t be fair to review them here cos they were really the PA guinea pigs and the sound sucked for 85% of their set. For the record they play Social D. influenced “Punk’n’Roll” with the nice addition of a piano to the sound.

Stiff Little Fingers, Lost City Angels -The Paradise, Boston (September 6, 2001)

Irish punk legends Stiff Little Fingers started their fall American tour at the Paradise – a Boston club they haven’t played since their first Stateside trip, 21 years ago.

Some of the NFL’s New England Patriots made the Paradise notorious a few years back when they stage-dived onto regular-size people at an Everclear concert. It’s understandable how a brutal, high-octane band like Everclear can whip anyone into a stage-diving frenzy; nonetheless the negative attention led authorities to close the Paradise for code violations.Now back in business, the Paradise looks exactly like it did before the closing, with its polished, Euro-hip decor. The joint may host techno dancing much of the time, but it can be a great venue for infrequent big punk shows. The room is fairly small and shallow, with its wide stage looming nearby wherever you stand, creating anintimate atmosphere. Tonight it was sold out. Younger scenesters and fans filled the floor, and the old fogies milled up on the balcony.

Lost City Angels were a perfect choice to open. The talented five-piece band of punks play upbeat, melodic hard rock songs on the long side with tight arrangements and cool dynamics. A lot of the kids up front sang and shouted along as the singer, a natural-born performer, and the harmonizing bassist belted out their original anthems. The crowd was suitably warmed up when LCA finished.

On a Celtic punk note, the sound guy played the Tossers, among other music, over the P.A. during the agonizingly long set change.

Finally, everybody’s favorite ‘80s-Irish-mulleted little guys took the stage in matching “Stiff Little Fingers” soccer jerseys with their respective last names stitched on the backs. The crowd went nuts to a few old hits like “Nobody’s Hero.” Explaining that they’re hoping to get a new record deal, the band soon trotted out several brand-new songs, not one of them bad ordifferent from what you’d expect. A standout was the slow reggae number “Listen to Your Heart.”

The last new song Jake prefaced with “I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of seeing five young boys in vests doing backflips and calling that music…this is a song called ‘I Believe In the Power of Guitar and Drum.’” The anti-MTV anthemic ode to rock and roll snapped the crowd out of their temporary funk, the song’s sentiment alone getting fans to pogo again. “I see we’re of like mind on that one,” Jake said as the band finished to loud roars.

Next up was “No Surrender,” and a fight broke out. The combatants were quickly ejected. “To our more boisterous brethren up front,” Jake good-naturedly chided at the end of the song, “We’re up here singing about reconciliation and peace, and you’re fighting! Get a boxing license.” Soon SLF kicked into awesome mode with a string of old hits: “Wasted Life,” “Fly the Flag,” “Tin Soldiers,” and finally “Alternative Ulster.” Pogoing and singing along were at all-time highs. Their set had already clocked in at an hour and five minutes, but the boys came back for an encore, covering the Clash’s “White Riot” and closing with “At the Edge.”

It seems that over two decades SLF have lost none of their energy. Jake’s singing voice is as plaintive and hopeful as ever. And the band seemed as happy and excited to be up on stage playing as the crowd was to see them.

By Pat Kennedy

Dropkick Murphys/Sick Of It All/Tiger Army – American Pride Tour 2001, Chicago, Il (October 19, 2001)

Punks, Skins, Hardcore kids, Psychos…All were in attendance as the American Pride Tour rolled through Chicago on Friday night, October 19th. Heading up to the venue – the Vic – I noticed the familiar faces of Chicago’s finest skins and punks that normally roll out for the DKM, but what amazed me was the sheer variety of the crowd. Not that it should have. America’s finest bands in three categories were in town. Tiger Army, the west coast’s premiere “Psychobilly/Punk/Rock’N’Roll” three piece, NYHC hardcore legends, the mighty Sick Of It All and the ever popular trailblazers of American Paddycore/Mickrock, the Dropkick Murphys.

As show time approached, the greasers adjusted their quiffs, the skins looked hard and psychos flooded the front. You could almost hear the switchblades gleaming and the pomade drying as Tiger Army scampered up on stage first. Being a fan of all things psycho, I readied myself. The Army played a helluva, albeit short set. This is a group that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. Playing such hits as “Nocturnal” and the Army anthem “Never Die”. Nick 13’s crooning and the hard-driving, haunting, howling sounds from the band left the psychos dying for more. Newer numbers like “The Power Of Moonlight” and “FTW” were already audience favorites, as the crowd wrecked along to every word. If you’re not familiar with Tiger Army, imagine a gang of 50’s rockabillies cutting an album with the grit of the Clash, and lyrics influenced by old horror movies and Glenn Danzig. Maybe Gene Vincent meets the Misfits meets East Bay Hardcore? Stand-up bass player Geoff Kresge was amazing – quite a showman he was – all energy, pacing back and forth like, well, a caged tiger (yeah, yeah…bad, bad pun.) Nick 13 kept the crowd moving, and all in all, I wish they would’ve played for another 30 minutes, as their material is definitely strong enough to warrant it, and they kept the crowd involved the whole time. American roots music updated with a punk rock flair and horror show style. Hell, I even saw some skins smiling. I haven’t had this much fun with greasers since Fonzie donned water skis and jumped a shark all those years ago.

Testosterone levels were running high, and the change was aching to be picked up, as New York’s Sick Of It All followed. If you’ve seen SOIA, then no explanation of what followed is necessary. Motherfucking Mayhem. As Ken Casey noted, these guys ain’t no openers – there were TWO headliners for tonight’s show. Lou Koller made sure that everyone took care of each other as the band blasted through hit after fucking hit. I have always been a fan of the bands older material, (although I do also dig their newer stuff) and was pleased to hear them represented by “Clobberin’ Time” “GI Joe Head Stomp” and “Us Vs. Them” among others – it was a virtual hit parade. SOIA also pulled out all the stops on newer ball-busters like “Call to Arms” and cuts from their latest “Hello Pricks” and “Disco Sucks, Fuck You.” Band-wise, Pete Koller is a sight to behold: total fucking energy, never stops moving throughout the whole set. Near mid-set, Lou asked everyone to play the “Braveheart” game, re-enacting the scene from said film where Wallace and the Scots charge the Irish portion of the English-ruled Army (the Irish were the expendable ones, after all) and rather than commence combat, they stopped and embraced. So, the game went: rather than run headlong into one another and ‘battle’, stop and embrace. It was positivity and unity like this that the crowd (and country) needed to have thrust their way. All this from fuckin’ Yankee fans, I couldn’t believe it… (just kidding, I’m just bitter that my fucking “normally-worthless- yet-this-year-first-place” Cubs blew it in the last 3 weeks of the season this year. They say rooting for lovable losers is honorable, but Jesus Christ, can we catch a break sometime soon? More opinions on that later.) While America and New York may have been wounded, Sick Of It All are on the scene making sure that we kick start ourselves, brush off the ashes and head right back into the good fight. Cheers, gentlemen.

After SOIA left the stage, the crowd was treated to an unannounced surprise. The Chicago Police Emerald Society Pipe and Drums band took the stage. The Chi-town pipers/drummers set consisted of patriotic American tunes like “God Bless America” and I swear at one point I heard strains of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” as well. It was amazing to see the band’s lead drummer, well into his fifties, playing almost punk-rock speed as the crowd spurred him on with chants of “faster, faster.” When I talked to him post-show about how well he and the band had played, he just smiled and said “Hey, I’m a fan, just like you.”

Being a piper myself, I knew the pipers and drummers were paying a hefty tribute to those lost in NYC on 9/11. They were, in words stolen from the aforementioned film “Braveheart”: saying goodbye in their own way, playing outlawed tunes on outlawed pipes…..Then, they broke into the familiar call to arms of “Scotland the Brave” and I could almost hear Mills Lane’s raspy mantra in the air: Let’s Get It On.

If patriotism, positivity, hard work and guts represents the necessary tools for the old-school American success story, and the results could be personified into a band, that band would be Dropkick Murphys. Ken Casey has created an Irish-American band based in punk rock, Oi! and the American working-class tradition, but one that expanded into so much more. The cliché review of “this band represents American values and the working man….” never rang more true, never sounded less clichéd, as that is exactly what the Murphys are about. Having seen them in their earliest appearances in Chi-town (playing Thurstons with the Business was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen) I can tell you they have been about these messages since day one. In the wake of recent events, I can think of no other band that could heal a cities battered and wounded subculture like the Murphys. As the lights dimmed, the familiar strains of Boston legends DYS “Wolfpack” started over the speakers (and I chuckled as the hardcore crew next to me asked themselves who it was.)

The familiar crowd chant “Let’s Go Murphys” echoed off the cavernous ceiling like a packed Wrigley Field and the band responded – The Murphys took the stage like a band possessed, like men with missions. The usual hit parade was present and old classics like the opener “Do or Die” and “Never Alone” had me front row and fighting off a sea of the mad. My favorite from the new record “Heroes From Our Past” got my boots moving, as did the normal drinking anthems “The Wild Rover” and “Finnegan’s Wake.” As is now tradition, the ladies flooded the stage for “The Spicy McHaggis Jig” (including some particularly well-endowed ladies at that) and Spicy looked slightly bemused by it all, shaking his head and laughing.

Spicy was like a man-at-arms all night, playing his “instrument of war” as if the bands lives REALLY DID depend on him, like Scots Pipers did all those centuries ago. Mark Orrell is a wonder-kid, with Angus Young-style flash on the lead guitar, balanced out by the equally grand James Lynch, who is more like a guitar version of bass player John “The Ox” Entwistle of the Who – all power, no mess, no fuss, just pure impact. I couldn’t hear Ryan Foltz as well as I have in the past, which might’ve had something to do with the fact that I was front row, stage right the whole night. I know from the past, however, the kid’s a talent, playing both mandolin and whistle, both of which are a bugger to play. Matt Kelly, as usual, keeps things moving, and his mix of punk rock/Celtic-style drumming makes him the best in the biz. Al Barr, as most know, is a legend. Barr controls the chaos and winds the crowd up when necessary and brings them back down when needed. He definitely is exercising more vocal control and range with the Murphys than he did with the Bruisers. Ken Casey – well – Ken is the visionary. Thanks to Ken, the world of punk rock is enlightened. While Oi! comparisons don’t really fit musically anymore, the spirit is the same – sounds from the streets created by neighborhood guys who lived it. Giving the laborer a voice. Rallying around the country’s needs. Seeing that patriotism isn’t viewed as a negative. (Anti-Flag anyone?) As a songwriter, Ken is, to me, like a Brendan Behan figure. A working class kid who’s been through a lot and who knows how to string sentences together to evoke emotional responses from his audience. It’s as simple as that. Call-and-response. Big choruses that fit right in at any barroom sing-along. Lyrics that make the old fellas in the neighborhood nod and wink, inhale their smoke, take a pull off their well-worn flask and bask proudly in the glory Casey evokes in his songs. And a wicked bass player to boot. Too bad he’s a Bruins fan. Go `Hawks.

The event offered numerous thoughtful surprises – the band dedicated the old classic “John Law” from the “Tattoos and Scally Caps” 7″ (has it been that long?) to all the policemen and firemen who lost their lives battling the terror that was 9/11. I don’t know if I’ve been happier or more proud to hear a song in my life. “Far Away Coast” packed a similar emotional wallop, in tribute to the soldiers that are defending God’s Country as we speak. The audience themselves came alive and embraced the unity the Dropkicks preached – There were soldiers embraced with skinheads, cops arm-in-arm with punks (yes, it’s true) and greasers and psychos and just regular guys and girls. It was a sight to witness. Ken stopped several times to point out that America needs to remember their forgotten, to honor their fallen – to never forget. He led the crowd in “Amazing Grace” and noted that a portion proceeds from the show are going to the New York Firefighters 9-11 Relief Fund.

When all was said and done, when the last strains of “Skinhead on the MBTA” were no more, the boys thanked the crowd, packed it up and left the stage. No encores. None were needed. This show was about American Pride, not band pride. Point well taken. The Murphys came to us that night like the boys from the old brigade, called back into action when we need them most. They came to town to raise the flag high and raise spirits even higher. Mission accomplished, lads. Slainte. Much thanks to them, Tiger Army and Sick Of It All.

By Sean Holland

Blood or Whiskey – McGann’s, Boston MA (September 13, 2001)

After an INS hassle in late August, Ireland’s Blood or Whiskey managed to enter the States to bring their driving trad-Irish folk-punk to the pubs of the East Coast. The hijackers were yet new arrivals in Hell when Blood or Whiskey — encouraged by fans to press forward — played the famous McGann’s in Boston.

Allow me to quote myself from a Clancys review that appeared in the Boston Irish Reporter a few years back: “Tucked in a side street near the Fleet Center, McGann’s is a small Irish pub that books some great Irish music acts. Its walls are divided between red brick and yellow sheet rock, and they’re covered with framed photos of concerts past. The tables and the bar are smooth blond wood.” Huh — I forgot to mention that the bathrooms feature running water. A determined crowd of about 65 included members of Dropkick Murphys, Tommy & the Terrors, and the Lashes.

Blood or Whiskey are a skilled six-piece with drums, bass, banjo, acoustic guitar, bouzouki, and tin whistle. Sometimes switching to mandolin, the tin whistle player was an American stand-in — a portly fellow in an awesome Boston-Bruins-style Guinness jersey. Singer and bouzouki player Barney sometimes switched to accordion. They’re not much for onstage banter, but this band is an excellent throwback to Red Roses For Me acoustic punk. Barney’s ability to simultaneously pluck and growl intricate Irish melodies raises the bar for the genre. Drawing from both their studio albums as well as their repertoire of traditionals, the band cranked them out fast and tight, yet mellow and laid-back. Only guitarist/singer Dugs hollered and jumped around the stage. Their set was broken up with plenty of finely-cobbled instrumentals, like “King of the Fairies/Western Junk,” whose thudding bass and shrieking whistle conjured Paddy Garcia firing his pistol at the wild cats of Kilkenny. Other highlights were “Galway Town,” “Unfinished Business,” a super-fast rendition of “Kelly the Boy from Killane,” “Follow Me Up to Carlow,” and of course the very sensitive “You Can Keep the Baby, Baby.” They slowed it down for the glass-swaying “Sober Again.” And bassist Tom sang some of the ska and pop songs, like the self-proclaimed “cheesy” number “Chloe,” which Barney sheepishly introduced as having “bombed in the Irish charts.” The set clocked in at an hour and a half, as the lads finished strong with “Bucharest” and “Rudy.”

Abrasive or mellow? Blood or Whiskey sound rough, but they deliver one hell of a smooth buzz. May you have no excuse to miss ’em next time!

By Pat Kennedy

Neck -The Burren, Somerville MA (September 19, 2001)

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.

Tommy & the Terrors, In Harm’s Way, Suspect Device, Musclecah – The Middle East, Cambridge MA (December 19, 2001)

Musclecah opened this one. Personally, I’m already sick of the so-cheesy-it’s-cool hard rock schtick, but I’ll say this about Musclecah: these guys aren’t being ironic; they really are old long-haired rockers from Worcester. They actually bought their mesh baseball caps in the ’80s at the mall, not yesterday at the Salvation Army. Anyways, some good heavy riffs and an entertaining singer.

Next up was Suspect Device. For an explanation of their anthemic street-punk sound, refer to my gushing review of their CD, also in this issue. And if you have the CD, well, tonight they played several songs from it, such as “Another Day,” “Carry On,” and “Street Rock Soul.” Suspect Device are a non-flashy, inspiring band who rock the house. Even when he’s singing, Jay Bennett does not stop moving and jumping around, throwing his guitar neck up in the air at every hit as the drummer pounds away. The growing crowd perked up immediately.

I was surprised at the next band, In Harm’s Way. These young hardcore kids were not bad at all – I didn’t take too many notes because I was suddenly moved to jump in there and rhythmically punch and kick the air as if it was a real show. So that says something about In Harm’s Way and their good blend of old and new school HC.

Last up was Tommy & the Terrors. Tommy on stage is a well-spoken soccer hooligan. He humbly deflects applause and says what “an honor and a privilege” it is to play with the other bands. Then, suddenly, when a song starts, his face goes red as he furiously barks lyrics, pounding the air and wrapping the mic cable around his arm like a man possessed. The Terrors’ talented new lead guitarist gives them a professional, Skynyrd-esque element in the form of solos and a leopard-print guitar strap. The closer was “I Love Rock n’ Roll” by Joan Jett (or whoever the hell did that song originally).

By Pat Kennedy