Saturday, August 29, 2015

Pugwash at Molly Malone’s Irish Pub, 8-28-15 Concert Review

Pugwash performing "Answers On A Postcard"
Pugwash is currently touring the states to help promote their excellent new CD, Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends), which comes out September 4th and is the band’s first CD to be released internationally. I was turned onto this Irish band only a year or so ago, when a compilation was released in the U.S. through Omnivore Recordings, and so last night’s show at Molly Malone’s Irish Pub was the first chance I had to see them in concert.

And what a great show it was. I got there early in order to grab one of the few tables near the front. Soon it started to get crowded. People seemed to arrive all at once, like a wave crashing upon the stage then receding to the back of the room, leaving behind this strange assortment of people. Definitely an older crowd, which made me happy. These are folks who made the effort, people to whom music is important. My kind of people. The Cherry Bluestorms opened the show at 9 p.m. with a set of 1960s-influenced pop tunes (and actually, they kicked off their set with a good rendition of “She Said She Said,” one of my favorite Beatles tunes). The volume was loud enough without being too loud, and I was glad that the sound man wasn’t one of those deaf and daft guys who mistake their small clubs for Madison Square Gardens.

Just before 10 p.m., Pugwash was introduced, though the venue’s house music was still playing, leading the band to joke, “Amateurs.” They kicked off the show with the opening tune from the new album, “Kicking And Screaming.” And after it, they joked, “Good night.” Pugwash is a band that jokes around quite a bit, keeping things loose. They had a great and immediate rapport with the crowd. After “Kicking And Screaming,” they played “Kings And Queens,” a tune from their first album. It’s been insanely hot in Los Angeles the past week or so, and Molly Malone’s is a fairly small room so I figured it might get a bit warm in there. And indeed it did, leading Thomas Walsh to say early on: “We are very honored to sweat. We come from a land sweat doesn’t exist.”

After “Keep Movin’ On,” they did a bit of “Suspicious Minds,” and then played one of my favorite tracks from the new album, “Hung Myself Out To Dry.” They played my other favorites too – “You Could Always Cry” and “Oh Happy Days” – after I shouted out requests for them. And after “Oh Happy Days,” they talked a bit about recording that song, and how Ray Davies came to be on it.

They dedicated “Finer things In Life” to a woman named Amber, who is getting married soon. And after that tune, they shouted out random things to see if the audience would cheer, and the crowd happily played along. They did a few covers, including The Idle Race's “Morning Sunshine” and XTC's “Love On A Farmboy's Wages.” At one point they jokingly did a bit of Abba’s “Fernando.” They stopped, but then started again, in earnest this time. And a joke about “token applause” led to a rendition of The Tokens’ “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” But one of my favorite humorous moments was when they joked about The Beach Boys covering Kraftwerk, “Fun, fun, fun on the autobahn.” Sure, there’s quite a bit of fucking around during the show, but Pugwash is a lot of fun, and the music is great.

Nelson Bragg (of The Brian Wilson Band) joined Pugwash for “Your Friend” and a cover of Tom Petty’s  “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” playing tambourine and maracas. At the end of “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” he shattered the maracas by banging them together (then quickly left the stage). Pugwash then ended the show with “The Fool I Had Become” (from the new CD) and “It’s Nice To Be Nice.” They said “It’s Nice To Be Nice” was essentially the encore, because they didn’t want to walk off and come back, as it’s too much work. That didn’t stop the audience from calling out for an encore, of course. The show ended at 11:44 p.m. And though the audience kept the call for an encore going for a while, the band did not return to the stage.

Set List
  1. Kicking And Screaming
  2. Kings And Queens
  3. Keep Movin’ On
  4. Hung Myself Out To Dry
  5. Finer Things In Life
  6. Apples
  7. Be My Friend Awhile
  8. Fernando
  9. There You Are
  10. You Could Always Cry
  11. Answers On A Postcard
  12. The Lion Sleeps Tonight
  13. Morning Sunshine
  14. Here
  15. Love On A Farmboy’s Wages
  16. Oh Happy Days
  17. Anyone Who Asks
  18. Fall Down
  19. Your Friend
  20. Runnin’ Down A Dream
  21. The Fool I Had Become
  22. It’s Nice To Be Nice
Here are a few photos from the show:

Pugwash introduction
"Kings And Queens"
"Finer Things In Life"
"Be My Friend Awhile"
"The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
"Fall Down"
"Your Friend"
"The Fool I Had Become"
"It's Nice To Be Nice"
Tickets for this show were $15. As the new CD from Pugwash is the first to get an international release, I am guessing word will spread quickly about how good this band is, and the next time they come through town they’ll be booked in a larger venue. I am so glad I got to see them in such an intimate room. Molly Malone’s Irish Pub is located at 575 S. Fairfax Ave. in Los Angeles.

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