THE GUNNERS LONDON N5 – TC Costello, Anto Morra, Brendan O’Prey Despite a poor audience turn out for the gig it was quality not quantity that made the evening so great. London visits are much more gruelling for me as I get older and to avoid traffic congestion, parking tickets (or any of the other unjustifyable things they can charge you £60 for 3 days after the event) I have to travel in on public transport from my safe parking base in Woolwich, ironically the gig was in Arsenal / Finsbury Park quite a trek on public transport with instruments, leads & Merch. I was as usual unfashionably early, the first there but was able to sound check my Bodhran and fill the sound man Andy in on the evenings proceedings.
As the small posse gathered I was reminded how lucky I am to know this motley crew, a nicer bunch of people you couldn’t wish to meet and it was great to catch up with them again. Established in 2009 The London Celtic Punks webzine has been putting on gigs, promoting bands and reviewing albums that fit the ever growing Celtic Punk genre.
Since The Pogues in the early 1980’s, Celtic Punk has grown beyond anyones expectations with the top names today being the likes of The Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, The Mahones and The Rumjacks. The term Celtic is used very loosely I think as a replacement for the ‘Folk’ terminology to distinguish it from those finger in the ear, woolly jumper wearing acts I love so much as there is very little that is Celtic about The Levellers or Ferocious Dog but their names will always crop up when the genre is being analysed. Three of the best Celtic Punk bands on the London circuit I’ve come across are the Bible Code Sundays, Neck and The Lagan. Recently The Lagan front man Brendan O’Prey has started to venture out as a solo performer and he was the opening turn this evening and a very fine one it was too, packed with Christy Moore classics but unlike Christy these days performed with personality and passion.
After a bit of insistence he finally gave Me and the Bhoys the classic Lagan song we wanted.
Next up was myself I thought I’d start with my new revised ‘Ballad Of Margaret Thatcher’ and I nearly got through it without fault but still not quite! As I never write a set list and try to work of the audience TC Costello had told me he had been listening to Gypsy Smile and London Irish a lot, so I thought I’d play that for him until I thought this might be better with a band.
I rattled through a few more including requests from the Merch King Chris Brown and Mr LCP himself- Mark, but slung this bit of Irish Trad in towards the end of my set, sticking to my only performance rule that is to start and finish with my own songs.
My Complete Set List: Guardian Of The West (Ballad Of Margaret Thatcher). Gypsy Smile. London Irish, Wasted Life (Stiff Little Fingers Cover). Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (The Jam Cover). Finnegans Wake (Trad). Rocky Road To Dublin (Trad). Ballad Of Anto Morra.
Finally the star turn all the way from South Carolina and jet lagged from a gig in Brooklyn New York the night before (but you’d never know) a one man Celtic Punk machine….. TC Costello.
To conclude: Brendan O’Prey’s pure Irish passion comes across in a genuine way. As a solo performer myself I love to hear things stripped bare and hearing him without the band was a real joy. His vocal style reminded me a little of Jake Burns from Stiff Little Fingers also from the North of Ireland and also with a rasp to die for.
I’m never happier than when I’m in performance mode and so had a thoroughly fun time and to be joined by Brendan and TC was a privilege. I’ve no more plans to play in London so this may have been my last gig there and if so I’m happy it was a memorable one.
TC Costello is remarkable. Pure Energy, Pure Punk, Pure Entertainment. If he comes to a town near you don’t miss him- his warmth and charm is infectious and when he hits those high notes there is a vibrato reminicent of John Lydon himself. Let’s never forget John Lydon was the very first London Irish Punk.
You can catch Brendan O’Prey & TC Costello along with Matilda’s Scoundrels on the 5th of July at The Lamb in Surrey KT6 5NF. TC is at the Red Lion in Bristol on the 17th of June and he is pogoing around the Europe at a tremendous rate, check out where he is playing at www.tccostello.com