Any band that has a song titled, “The Night I Punched Russell Crowe” is bound to be alright with me.
Gaelic Storm is just such a band – and it’s sad that I myself hadn’t even heard of them before last night’s show at Bogart’s. Luckily, bands do not depend solely on my knowledge of them for success. Turns out, a rather large and ferociously dedicated handful of happy rowdies have known all along about Gaelic Storm; and I feel privileged to count myself in the fan community as of 8:31 pm on Thursday night, February 24, 2012.
As with most good bands, you can sense that you’ll like them from about 5 seconds in to them taking the stage. There’s a swagger that comes with a band with chops, and anyone with half an ear can recognize it immediately. Good musicianship also helps. As does energy, stage presence, and a quirky sense of humor. Sure enough, Gaelic Storm had all the ingredients this night.
Traditional Irish tunes with a double dose of Stout, a single-shot of humor, and some fresh sets of lyrics. That’s how I’d some up Gaelic Storm. Their music doesn’t re-invent the wheel. But no one who loves Irish music (as I myself do) would want it that way. I don’t know what it is about Irish music – the hilarious poetic lyrics, the silly themes, beats that make you want to dance, or riffs that make you want to howl at the moon – that draws so many people seamlessly towards it. I think that maybe above all else, it’s the communal nature of the thing – the fact that the performers aren’t just performing and the audience isn’t just watching. They’re all in it TOGETHER, and they’re having a blast. And that’s exactly the feeling I got at the Gaelic Storm show. Here are some sketches that might tell you why:
Ryan the Drummer: Wrapped in white tape, Ryan’s hands say one thing to the onlooker: ‘We get abused.’ And they’re right. Mr. Lacey pounds away the rhythms, often using only his bare hands to smash the cymbals and pound the soundbox/bongo/djembe.
Patrick the Singer: I’ll repeat myself when I say; who doesn’t like an Irishmen who plays the accordion, drinks Guinness on stage, goes after the old tunes with new fury, and wrote an autobiographical song (or so he claims), called ‘The Night I Punched Russell Crowe.’
Jessie the Fiddler: In my professional opinion (and my buddy collaborated on this), every good Irish-style band needs the one gorgeously talented girl fiddle player. Gaelic Storm has Jessie Burns – who, though she hardly said a word during the show, spoke volumes on musicianship and grace.
When it all comes down to it, a good band is fun to watch at the local venue. A great band is when you’ve never heard so much as one of their tunes in your life before, and yet when they’re done, you feel a burning desire to immediately go buy/download/YouTube the songs that you just heard. Great jigs like “Darcey’s Donkey,” and “What’s the Rumpus?” certainly have that effect.