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Raising the Bar

By Kirsten Ferguson

Black 47

Revolution Hall, March 20

In their 20-plus years together as a band, New York City’s eclectic Celtic rock outfit Black 47 have played well over 2,000 shows, with a fair-sized chunk of those taking place here in the Capital Region, from repeat appearances at local Irish pubs like Saratoga’s Parting Glass and Albany’s McGeary’s to a memorable show at Bogie’s years ago where frontman Larry Kirwan lost a tooth after the crowd surged the stage, knocking the microphone into his mouth.

Last Saturday the band returned to the area for a post-St. Patrick’s Day gig at Troy’s Revolution Hall. In honor of the occasion, they played “Banks of the Hudson” from their debut album, inspired by the hall’s waterfront location, to toast the river that unites upstate with down. They also paid tribute to Troy’s Riverfront Park statue of Irishman and temporary Troy resident James Connolly, the only monument of its kind in the United States, with a ripping version of “James Connolly,” their fiery ode to the slain workingman’s hero.

“We’re gonna have an Irish dancing competition. You don’t have to know how to do it, just do it,” the affable Kirwan—wearing green suede shoes—said early on after executing a dexterous jig himself on “Celtic Rocker” from the band’s new Bankers and Gangsters album, a tongue-in-cheek tune that kicks off with a blast of E-Street-style horns before descending into a swirling Celtic groove.

Promises of free T-shirts and (jokingly proffered) post-show dalliances with the band got the smallish crowd in front of the stage to move, but it’s a shame more people didn’t catch this local appearance by a band who offer so much instrumental bang—including trombone, saxophone, pennywhistle and the absurdist looking, bellow-driven uilleann pipes—for the buck.

They were especially smoking on the reggae-inflected “Fire of Freedom,” the horn-blasting “Sadr City” from their acclaimed Iraq album, and set-closer and joyous rave-up “Maria’s Wedding.” “Mychal” was a touching homage to Black 47 fan and fire department chaplain Mychal Judge, who died on 9/11.

Local Black 47 fans who missed this one will have a second chance of sorts when Kirwan appears at the Van Dyck in Schenectady on April 23 as part of his Rock & Read tour. The frontman, who is also an author and playwright, will perform songs and read from his latest novel, Rockin’ the Bronx.

Missing in Action

Photo: Joe Putrock

Some people went for the music, others for the promise of a potential trainwreck, and there was a little of each at Friday night’s Club 1980s tour stop at Bogie’s. Following opening sets from locals the John Morse Band and Dead Serious, the night’s reported high point came from power-poppers Tommy Tutone, the band known pretty much exclusively for the 1982 hit “867-5309 (Jenny).” Then, Michael Astin of Gene Loves Jezebel played a solo acoustic set. Finally, and ironically, Missing Persons were short singer Dale Bozzio—one rumor has her splitting town with the tour manager and all the cash. Bozzio’s backup musicians instead played cover tunes and ran through a few Missing Persons hits with a fill-in vocalist. Good times.

 

 

 

 


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