Irish Rockers Invade NYC

The Irish Voice, Mar 11th, 2004
by Mike Farragher

The Irish Rock Revue made its first of two stops into The Knitting Factory over the weekend, providing a primer for the 5th Annual Revue bash that will take place this Friday, March 12. Joe Hurley is clearly juiced by the success of the event and the honor of sharing the stage for a pair of sold out shows with the legendary Undertones.

“I think this year's series of shows are the best yet,” beamed Hurley of Rogue’s March, who played host to the annual event he concocted five years ago.

“We basically took over the Knitting Factory here for a few weeks, camping out in the dressing room, that kind of thing. The venue helped us get sponsorship from Guinness, and they have made the Revue great with the free stuff they’re giving away and their financial support.”

Hurley opted for a different take on the traditional “opening act.”

He kicked off the Revue with an “Irish Literary Jam” hosted by best-selling novelist extraordinaire Colum McCann. A cast of eight literary rogues, including this literary rogue, ran through favorite passages from the books of authors as diverse as Roddy Doyle, Oscar Wilde, and Christy Moore. Helena Mulkerns, a writer and journalist once associated with a number of New York Irish periodicals who recently edited an anthology entitled Turbulence: Corrib Voices (featuring new fiction writers from County Galway), captivated the crowd with a saucy reading in the Gaelic tongue.

It was just the trick to get the crowd in an Irish frame of mind as Hurley and Rogue’s March tore through their songbook with a ferocity that was truly spellbinding. (Their version of Johnny Cash’s “Folsum Prison” was uncorked during the soundcheck, and it provided one of many highlights of the evening. Please, Joe, get this committed to tape soon).

They stage-tested a few new songs from their upcoming An Irish Breakfast in a Greek Diner, as well as crowd-pleasers like “On My Way Home” and the Fellini-esque “Bed Sheets of Lili Marlene.”

Rogue’s March then played backing band to a cadre of characters who made the songs of Irish artists their own. Ricky Birds did a raucous version of “Messin’ With the Kid” while Kristeen Young did a spirited read of Sinead O’Connor’s “No Man’s Woman.”

The band ably shifted from punk to country to traditional with no trouble, and the variety of singers saw to it that your particular musical cup of tea was served. Songs from Oasis and the Smiths (second generation Irish from England, but so what) stood proudly by the compositions of Thin Lizzy, and everyone bowed down in homage as Hurley spewed Johnny Lydon’s “God Save the Queen” to close out the night.

You have not celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in New York City until you’ve checked out the Irish Rock Revue.