The Beachcomber is really my kind of bar, having a mix of all the right ingredients for a perfect dive; including a multi-decade history of Irish and Celtic-inspired entertainment, a cheap and crappy pizza that was the best food on earth at a blurry 11:30 PM, and a decent stage area that can hold a larger band of six or seven.
And it was that stage was the whole point of the evening. A four-band bill with Neck headlining could’ve been held anywhere and turn out awesome. It just so happens that it was here, and it did.
The show opened with The Swaggering Growlers who set the pace for the evening with some good energy despite the fact that the audience was still arriving. Their set was comprised of some material from forthcoming recordings, some covers, and a decent-sized handful off of their (highly recommended, by the way,) CD, “THE BOTTLE AND THE BOW,” including two of my favorites off of that release, “Greetings (from the Unemployment Line,)” and “Dover Tenement.”
The following act was The Beantown Boozehounds, who I was unfamiliar with prior to the evening. Their sound was a far more straight-ahead punk sound with dalliances into the Celtic influence only on a few songs and due almost solely to the inclusion of the mandolin by one of the band’s two guitarists. Each song the band played came off tight, solid and rockin’ and as the crowd had grown considerably by this set, (to include a number of obvious fans of the Boozehounds, regurgitative and rowdy,) they upped the ante of the evening further.
The third act of the evening was The Gobshites, who, (after a bit of mopping up of the sprayed beverages from a particularly demonstrative Boozehounds fan,) took the stage as if they owned the place. Their noise was huge and wide with a full-boat of trad. instruments and a big bag of variety about their songs. I knew that the band toured furiously, but I hadn’t seen a full set from these guys before. I was fully impressed.
By the time Neck came on, it had already been a great night. Mr. O’Keeffe and co. sounded the balls as they tore through some stuff from their awesome SOD ‘EM & BEGORRAH, (“I Turn My Face to the Four Winds,” and “Every Day’s St. Patrick’s Day,”) as well as material from some earlier recordings, (like “Topless Mary Poppins” and “Hello Jakey!,”) some songs from a forthcoming release, (“Come Out Fighting” and “Ourselves Alone,”) and some impossible-not-to-include songs, (like “Star of the County Down” and “Everybody’s Welcome to the Hooley.”) The band even threw out a bit of the ol’ céilí music for a professional step dancer in the audience, (the sister of yours truly,) if only for a moment or so. Had a survey been taken at the end of the night, everyone in attendance would have agreed the evening was one metric shitload of fun all around.
As one of the biggest, and most highly regarded and respected bands in the genre, a Neck show is not one to be missed. This show was no exception. All the supporting acts were in excellent sound and Neck kicked some serious arse. Everybody was great, approachable, and ego-free, and I had a fantastic night with a few pints of black, meeting some new friends and hearing some of the best music made.
Review by Christopher P. Toler, THE Blathering Gommel