Band Review: Black 47 at the Stone Pony, Memorial Day 2011

Band Review: Black 47 at the Stone Pony, Memorial Day 2011

As biased as my previous review was, this one will be also.  But, unlike the previous review, I became biased towards Black 47, not because of friendships (which came later), but because I was just a super fan going back to their early days (1989-1991) when they were playing in the Norwood/Bainbridge section of the Bronx – which just happened to be my old neighborhood.

I’m kinda embarrassed to admit this, but I never did see the band live when they were playing back in my old neighborhood.  They had played in the local Irish bars, and by this time I had already given up drinking at the ripe old age of 16 (more common in my Irish-American neighborhood than you would expect)

I don’t remember who exactly, but “someone” recommended Black 47, and I picked up their CD – probably at Crazy Eddie’s on Fordham Road. I was really surprised that I liked their music.   I DID NOT like Irish music at all at that time tho – too many parentally-forced listenings of “Wild Colonial Boy” and “The Unicorn” on WFUV’s Sunday radio program will do that to you.

Whatever magic they were doing in Black 47 back then was somehow the perfect music for me. From the moment I heard “Rocking the Bronx” and “Living in America” (where they referenced Bainbridge Avenue and Fordham Roads – two VERY familiar streets for me) I was hooked.  Then when their song “Funky Ceílí” hit it big and they were played on regular FM radio, I was in heaven…And they’ve been getting better ever since.  Every album they’ve put out has had at least 2 or 3 “favorite” songs on it.   I have literally replaced my “Home of the Brave” AND “Fire of Freedom” CD’s because I played the hell out of them… Thank god for iPods so now I don’t have to worry about ruining CD’s again.

Eventually lead singer Larry Kirwan and I became friends over the years, and he’s been quite supportive to me and my artistic endeavors – He even went so far as to get ne into the Irish-American Writers and Artists group and give me a cover blurb for my book “Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang

So, yes, I’m biased about Black 47.  However this bias is based on them winning me over with their music over the years…

So after that short history, lets get back to the present.

I went to see Black 47 this past weekend (Memorial Day 2011) at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park.  I try to see them every time they come out to the Pony, but its been a crazy few weeks, and the show snuck up on me.   The only reason I found out about it is because my friend Mike Farragher was scheduled to do a short intro to his new book “This is Your Brain on Shamrocks” (which you can read my review of here)

Mike got on stage and talked about his book for a few minutes and the crowd was eating out of his hand.  They really related to the anecdotes that Mike was sharing about the book.   I hope he sold tons of copies – it’s a good book and he deserves it.   Shortly after Mike finished, Black 47 hit the stage.

And they rocked the roof off the Stone Pony.   They played a great mixture of their old stuff like “Green Suede Shoes“, “Big Fellah” (my favorite), and “Rocking the Bronx“, and their newer stuff like “Long Hot Summer Coming” (appropriate for Memorial Day) and  “Izzy’s Irish Rose” (which surprisingly gets the heavily Irish crowd dancing to the  “Hava Nagila” part of that song).  Also played were “One Starry Night”  (another of my favorites)  and “Downtown Baghdad Blues” (big crowd favorite – especially on Memorial Day)

Black 47 is one of those bands that while their CD’s are great, their shows are an awesome whirlwind of great music and dancing.  Once the music starts, the dancing begins…   Not always by the best dancers either, as seen in this video.   But one thing for sure is, the energy levels are off the charts..  Check out this video to show the final song where the crowd gets up on stage and sings and dances with Larry & the boys.   If you’ve never been to a Black 47 show, you should check them out – you definitely get your money’s worth and you’ll leave a lot more energized than when you came in!

Check out the videos below to see a few of the songs from the Memorial Day show at the Stone Pony

 

Pictures:

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