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  1. #1
    Forum Regular MindGoneHaywire's Avatar
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    Nov 2003

    Live review: Undertones headline Irish Rock Nite

    I was never a huge Undertones fan; I've only ever had the greatest hits & outside of a couple of tracks it just never really grabbed me for some reason. Maybe because outside of 'Teenage Kicks' I don't think I ever heard most of this stuff until about 10 years after I started listening to the Buzzcocks. That's an unfair comparison, but kind of an obvious one. So this show, at the Knitting Factory, wasn't something I would've spent money on probably even before I got sick, but I lucked into a freebie on this one, kind of at the last minute, through a friend. Same old story...that's how I've seen most of the live music I've seen over the past few years, if not every show. Nice to have friends, huh?

    First up was Joe Hurley with an approximation of his band, Rogue's March. Anybody ever hear of this band, which is probably best known for the song 'Shut Up & Drink?' Damn good Irish rock stuff, way better than Black 47, with Pogues-ish moments & I also hear echoes of Mike 'Sport' Murphy & the Skels in what this guy does. Sitting in on guitar was Ivan Julian of Richard Hell/Voidoids & Matthew Sweet infamy; I was told that the rhythm section was comprised of Rogue's March stalwarts, actually subbing for the guys who were originally supposed to play the gig, James Mastro, once of the Bongos, and Tony Shanahan, the bass player for Patti Smith. Those guys were unavailable, away on tour with Ian Hunter. Keeping score? Good, because I enjoyed these guys a heck of a lot & they're definitely worth checking out...especially if you dig the Skels stuff I've sent to some of you. In addition to the two guitar/bass & drums/frontman deal, there was also an accordian player who doubled on keyboards, with the accordian adding a nice touch to the Irish material particularly. Strong songs, and the band doesn't lean too much towards either Irish or 'Rock' orthodoxy, yet maintains focus, which is a nifty trick. Good local act; me like.

    Next up were the Prodigals, who offered up, well, let's just say, a different take on the 'Irish Rock' thing. First song up raised a caution flag for me. The bass player astounded me with his proficiency, playing an incredibly intricate series of bass runs that actually sounded like they were written for a different instrument (a lead instrument). These guys were tight as a drum & very professional, but let's just say they weren't my cup of coffee. The lineup was bass, drums, guitar, & a frontman who occasionally dabbled with an accordian, but their approach was radically different from the first band. The guitar sound was thin, even with chorus added (mixed with Irish music? buh), just kinda bland. The bass player was a very 'up on the high frets' kind of guy who rarely laid down the kind of solid foundation I like to hear in rock'n'roll (Troy, that means you'd probably have loved it). It's difficult to argue since this was hardly masturbation--there was a point to it that didn't detract from the songs--but then some tunes were funk, some leaned towards funk...and I just don't hear that as being a style that melds well with Irish music. In the end I think the best way to sum 'em up would be to picture Dave Matthews...playing a combination of traditional Irish music, at rock velocity, instrumentation, & volume, mixed with funk. I'll pass. Full disclosure, I don't know the bass player, but I was told that he was the guy I replaced in the band I play in. Difficult to imagine since I could never in a million years play like this guy & what I do is the polar opposite anyway, but that's what makes horse racing, I guess.

    The Undertones (who did two shows at the Knitting Factory, are playing in Washington D.C. tonight, & then head back home--nice tour, huh?) took the stage around midnight. The place was sold out, the most crowded I'd seen it since I saw Lou Reed there a few years back. We got an hour and a half of straight up, bona fide, energetic, late 70s PUNK ROCK. I definitely have a newfound appreciation for this band, & listening to the CD I have this morning, I don't know what I was thinking dismissing the songs as I did in the past. It's full of hits any way you slice it & is going to get more play in this house from here on in. Feargal Sharkey declined to rejoin the band, but they certainly found a suitable replacement. I never realized this band had two guitars in their lineup, but there was some great rhythm guitar interplay, enhanced significantly, I might add, by the dynamic of a Telecaster through a Twin vs. a Les Paul through a Marshall. I haven't heard that kind of synergy in a long long time, especially live...and it's right up my alley. Songs included 'Jimmy Jimmy,' 'My Perfect Cousin,' 'Teenage Kicks,' of course, 'Wednesday Week,' 'Get Over You,' 'Male Model,' 'Here Comes The Summer,' and also a few from the new album they put out a few months ago--a couple of which were definitely as good as any of the old hits. After about an hour they left, only to return pretty much immediately & play another 15 minutes or so, including 'Mars Bar.' Then they did a second encore--their cover of the Chocolate Watchband's 'Let's Talk About Girls.' Kick@ss. If not for the Soft Boys show I took in a couple of years ago, this was the best show I've seen in years. I just don't see that many rock'n'roll bands anymore, though, so...

    After the show the O'Neill brothers both came into the bar area where they were of course approached by quite a few people for photos & autographs; but they actually came there to get somebody else's autograph--Roddy Doyle, the guy who wrote the book The Commitments. That was interesting to see. Funny that a couple of Irish guys have to come to New York to track down an Irishman whose work they liked! I think the guy teaches a writing course up at Columbia or something like that. Nice to see the interaction between the O'Neills & the fans, who obviously never thought they'd get a chance to see an Undertones show. I sure never did. A night well spent.

    I don't like others.

  2. #2
    Toon Robber tentoze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    North Florida Piney Woods
    Sounds like a helluva show to me, J. Too bad Vegas is such a wasteland for live music of the type that would get me outta the house.
    ----Never Off Topic, Never Rude-----

  3. #3
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    Feb 2004

    Pogues/Black 47...

    It was kinda funny - I'm reading your post mentioning The Pogues and Black 47 literally moments after I just ripped and loaded My Pogues and Black 47 cd's onto my new Ipod. I take it from your post your not big on Black 47 and a few years back I would have called you on it. I guess you have better taste than me cos after putting them onto the Ipod - I deleted them thinking - geez, this is a third rate Pogues knock off. Pogues sound lively and fresh years later and Black 47 - - well, back to the draw.
    The last time I saw Black 47 was at Shea Stadium after a Mets game. That should have been a clue.
    BTW...Roddy Doyle also wrote one of my favorite all time books - Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha - a great read.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2002


    Nice review J.
    I'm a big fan of the band, i just recently purchased the new re-issues of the cd's. They all come with extra tracks and the sound has been cleaned up(not that we started with great audio to begin with).
    I had steered clear of the Feargal less new album for the reason that FS was not singing, looks like I'll take a listen, see whats happening.

    I saw them play at the Birmingham(England) Odeon in 1980 I think? Loud and fast very good , but I'm sure they didn't play for much more than an hour.

    The Commitments DVD is being re-released this coming tuesday everything spruced up to what it should have been when they first issued it last year.

    I always thought Black 47 were and always will be a pale imitation of the Pogues, even after you posted those nasty looking pictures of Shane.

    Take care

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