Into Music Live Review: The Mary Wallopers
Concert: The Mary Wallopers
Venue: Glasgow Garage
Date: 17 December 2022
The war is over, the rebels have won.
Raucous, riotous, rabble-rousing Republicans in the form of The Mary Wallopers took to the Glasgow stage on Saturday night and for around an hour, they put on a performance that those who were lucky to be there, will no doubt still be talking about in years to come.
Rewind though 35 years before, on this very night, and The Pogues were in town at Glasgow Barrowland, playing Fairytale of New York live for the first time ever. Again, a concert still relived by those fortunate to be in attendance (myself included). The similarities between the two bands and those shows are striking, traditional Irish folk with a touch of added punk, rock and roll, deft ballads and an atmosphere you could almost taste.
From the first bars of Bold O’Donague the band are on red-hot form. Charles Hendy sings about an Irish rake who has the charm and cheek to seduce royalty, the song pounding and punching, guitars a frenzy, drums/bass adding a basic rockabilly feel and the tin-whistle frenetic, before a storming Rothsea-O goes down well. This is quickly followed up by the enticing ballad that is Love Will Never Conquer Me. The background banjo, accordion, bodhran et al pull on the spirit of The Dubliners and Clancy Brothers, with a nudge to The Pogues and Lankum.
Early highlight is Holy Ground. By this point pints are flying through the air, the mosh pit is wider and deeper than I’ve seen in many a year, and the crowd have collectively decided that “no fucks given” is the motto of the day. From there it gets wilder, better, more energetic and yes, wilder again…
Matters slow down slightly for Building up and Tearing England Down and then John O’Halloran which are quite prophetic They tell the story of the Irish navvies and workers who left their homeland to build so much of England, often at loss of life, while their paymasters didn’t care, as long as they get their piece of gold.
Recent singles Cod Liver Oil & the Orange Juice and Frost is All Over are welcomed like the old favourites they undoubtedly are, staples of The Mary Wallopers live set, the crowd singing along to the former then dancing and jigging to the latter. Marvellous.
For the encore, another track of Irish emigration in The Hot Asphalt gets an outing. It’s a fantastic take on a track well-covered by many bands before them, before a closing All For Me Grog sends the crowd off into the Glasgow night. Spent, satisfied and satiated.
The Mary Wallopers play Glasgow Barrowland on 7 May 2023 – keep up to date with the Dundalk band via their website here.