The Saw Doctors
In Concert Live In Galway
If there’s one thing I hate about live concert films, it’s the audience sing along session. Yeah, we know the lyrics. Yeah, we know the chords. We love the song to death. The live concert experience is unbeatable. But for goodness sake, the audience can’t sing for crap, they’re not miked and they are either drunk, stoned, or feeling up their girlfriend. Anyway, that’s how this DVD version of a Saw Doctors’ concert begins – they sing “N17,” a decent song by any standards, but they do the “hold the mic to the audience thing,” and it sounds like crap. Grrr. This is not fair to them, and it’s not fair to the new listener. These guys are more clean-cut than your typical Irish revival band, a bit less challenging than, say, Chieftains or U2, but not bad in a good time, noisy evening way. Plus, they KEEP DOING this for the first few songs. If you can hold on, there’s some interesting stuff here, but waiting for those first songs to end is a chore.
OK, some songs come across better than others. “What A Day” and “Bless Me Father” showcase Davy Carton’s gruff vocals and “10 years to overnight success” face. Their drummer, Jim Higgins, is great on the beat, but for some reason seems way too clean cut. Songs like “Tommy K” are reminiscent of early Violent Femmes, but they keep involving the audience. It’s cool when you’ve paid to worship at their feet, but it’s a royal pain when you’re watching a concert video.
Musically, these guys take a bad position, deserting the extremely traditional Gaelic sound that draws the folk crowd, yet in no way do they push the limits of rock and roll. It’s vaguely interesting, but full appreciation needs more alcohol than I can safely consume at the moment. To summarize in one line, it’s another bunch of Irish wankers with guitars. I received both a CD and a DVD for this event, and the CD is the soundtrack of the video. Musically identical, the DVD does contain the obligatory “bonus material”: photos and the like, a decent “making of video” which actually has better musical tracks than the concert, although none of them are complete songs. I think these guys have SOME talent, but they just don’t blast out of the background of local rock and rollers and grab the genre by the throat and whup it up side the head. I’d happily sit through these guys playing if I stumbled into them in dive bar, but I wouldn’t make a special trip for them.
The Saw Doctors: www.sawdoctors.com/