Into Live Music Review: The Mary Wallopers
Date: 5 October 2023
“The best f#cking night I’ve had in Glasgow with my clothes on!”
…said a random gig-goer to me as we left the venue. We both chuckled and, of course, he was right. As Thursday nights go, this stonker of a gig was greater than the relatively intimate venue that hosted it. The show was put on as a precursor to the band’s upcoming tour, a chance to try out the new songs live from the new album Irish Rock’n’Roll and tellingly, only two shows, one in London and one in Glasgow were played. The Mary Wallopers know this much, if you are going to road test a new set, you’ll get the feedback and reaction you need from a Glasgow crowd.
First up though, Falkirk’s Brogeal (brought in as support less than a day before the show) played a short but sharp set which was well received. The band are fast obtaining a growing reputation with their mix of folk and indie tunes which saw the band offered a support slot to The Proclaimers recently. Trust me, this is a band worth checking out.
With the crowd suitably warmed up, the six-piece Dundalk band took to the stage, as a five-piece! Unfortunately, bass player Roisin Barrett was floored with the dreaded Glesga lurgy and had to bow out. If there was any doubt about the new material, it was instantly blown away by the hurricane start, which featured Bould O’Donoghue, Rothesay-O and The Holy Ground. That album opener, with an amazing tin whistle was raucous, wild and simply insane, the crowd bouncing, pogoing and generally going nuts. It kinda felt like I was in a tumble dryer, spinning round, up, down and back and forth. More please. The Holy Ground was equally off the scale, I’ve always preferred the Wullie Malloy Experience version but this definitely rivalled it. More please.
Rich Man And The Poor Man saw Charles Hendy sing with only the beat of the bodhran in the background before the other band members returned to add vocal support. It showcased the power of the instrument and sung harmonies in a traditional way from where the likes of the Clancy Brothers and the Dubliners have went afore. Of the latter, an excellent cover of The Hot Asphalt was slipped in to the set. The immediacy and urgency of their take shifted things up a few gears with Sean McKenna spitting out the lyrics with venom.
Of course, there were a few songs included from the band’s self-titled debut album. No less than John O’Halloran with Andrew Hendy on vocals, again with bodhran only. Contrast the stillness and quietness of the crowd to what went before (and after) as they listened intently to Hendy’s atmospheric and haunting vocal.
Eileen Og was a mass singalong and by this stage there was quite a bit of crowd-surfing which the band looked on, laughing their heads off at what was going on in front of them. The Mary Wallopers “get it”, the Glasgow crowd “get it”. Again, more please.
The encore arrived and before we knew it, a closing All For Me Grog rounded off a great gig. Best night out in Glasgow with your clothes on? You bet.
The Mary Wallopers play Scottish dates in Edinburgh, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow in December. For more details, visit their website here.