The crowd knew exactly what was coming – a hi-octane, whirlwind set. The Borderline was more raucous than normal when The Men They Couldn’t Hang came to town, evidently a December ritual for the veteran punk folk rockers. Well, not quite so much of the punk after 33 years.
Imagine an English Pogues. The synergy between Irish-influenced music and country music has seldom been so apparent.
Kicking off with Cable St the band was joined by Bobby Valentino on fiddle.
A cracking version of Nick Lowe’s Wishing Well followed and the scene was set. This was going to be a good night.
Then Bounty Hunter, more traditionally Irish, and the enigmatically named Dogs Eyes, Owl Meat, Man Chop after which Stefan Cush pronounced “I know some of you are stalking me in the White Horse. But I’m banned from the White Horse.”
The crowd favourite Scarlet Ribbons had many singing along. This group has a loyal following, one couple coming from Portugal for the gig.
A heavier and Irish-influenced Coventry preceded Raising Hell from the band’s 2015 crowd-funded album, The Defiant. This was like the Pogues at their finest with a classic call and response driving rockabilly beat.
With both a pint of Guinness and a pint of lager Phil Odgers was joined by Paul Simmonds on guitar for a beautiful version of Islands in the Rain.
Stefan Cush then took the stage alone to say “I’ve never played this song before” and proceeded to play yet another song penned about Donald Trump, none of them favourable. This had some particularly cutting lyrics such as “The syrup on your head resembles something that’s been dead for quite some while” and “Orange face, you’re an absolute disgrace in human form.”
The band returned with Smugglers, bringing dancing and smiles to the sell-out crowd. Shirt of Blue, Rosettes and The Colours raised the volume and tempo until the set ended with Ironmasters.
For an encore Walkin’ Talkin’ had 50-year olds pogoing in the audience before the manic Day After finished this whirlwind gig and left the audience gasping for air and, in many cases, another pint.
If you get the chance go and see this band, a good time is guaranteed.