The contemporary folk scene is constantly evolving, incorporating ever more disparate sounds with traditional Irish sounds. The Scratch could be considered progenitors of this recent trend in the local music scene, and are inarguably amongst its forerunners, their metal-infused take on the style having seen them grow from viral sensation buskers to one of the finest live acts in Ireland today.
Celebrating the release of their fantastic new album ‘Mind Yourself’ and signing to Sony Records, the band are preceded tonight by the aptly named Really Good Time. A day shy of releasing their debut EP, ‘Escape From The Mountain Of Spit’, the quartet bring high energy, angular punky riffs, relentless rhythms and a frantic stage presence.
All four are constantly in motion, flitting from running on the spot in perfect synchronicity to quaking knees a la King Elvis himself, stopping only for a freeze frame pose during Plant Milk. Another cut cheekily borrows from Donna Summer’s I Feel Love. An aptly named band, appropriate for the night ahead.
The Scratch walk out to a riotous reception and waste no time in sounding a battle cry for all in attendance to get off their feet, launching right into recent single Cheeky Bastard. Pint glasses and t-shirts alike fly across the floor, while co-frontman and cajon player Daniel ‘Lango’ Lang demands the “biggest fucking circle pit Vicar Street has ever seen”, chanting “running in a circle” all the while. Segueing into Foolin’ Noone seamlessly, the symbiotic relationship the lads have with their audience is evident. “It’s been a dream of ours to play here and this is already fuckin’ amazin’” guitarist Conor “Dock” Dockery gushes.
It’s clear the lads have made it. We have an elaborate lightshow, a string trio, James Vincent McMorrow himself on keys. The lads are still the same old messers at heart though. Jordan “Jordo” O’Leary fluffs a line during Foolin’ Noone and the lads let him know about it without missing a beat. He also adopts a cartoonish growl during Rat King, which parlays nicely into a vamp on Marilyn Manson’s The Beautiful People during the band’s breakdown.
That’s not to say the show is without its serious moments, though. Lango dedicates Birdie to all the grannies, nannies and babooshkas the world over, while Trom I and II are undoubtedly the most serene and beautiful tracks the band have ever committed to tape, and lend themselves just as well to the live setting. The juxtaposition of such serious, emotional moments with a track like War Of The Buttons is wasted on nobody – the lowest moments in life require levity, too.
All the while, the musicianship is as impressive as ever. Lango’s percussion is singular, and superhuman in it’s energy, while Dock and Jordo flexed their inner Thin Lizzy with awe-inspiring twin leads.
Vicar Street is truly a sight to behold tonight. Packed to the rafters, bodies fling themselves about with reckless abandon and women stand and dance on the shoulders of their peers. Lango gets his circle pit and even a wall of death, the crowd parting like the Red Sea during Blaggard before colliding with each other in the most loving way possible. We even get a cameo from the band’s mascot and hype man, The Legs and Ispíní na hÉireann.
Let’s face it, The Scratch just don’t miss. Tonight is no exception.