Rogue's Bash is March Madness

The Irish Voice, Wed Apr 3, 2002 - Tues Apr 9, 2002

Off The Record

by Mike Farragher

"This is a hell of an evening to play, and a hell of an evening to recover from," says head Rogue Joe Hurley during a backstage interview at the Mercury Lounge. In the midst of the St. Patrick's Day festivities, Rogue's March was playing host to a cadre of talent as part of their annual All Star Irish Rock Revue. The band becomes an Irish jukebox for the evening, playing tunes from the likes of the Waterboys and the Boomtown Rats.

2002 Irish Rock Revue

"This evening is for an audience that can appreciate sadness and beauty within the same song," he says. "They also need to be able to appreciate both moods with a drink. We are celebrating Ireland and all the mix of emotions that go with it."

Hurley was in a particularly roguish mood during our interview, joking loud and often. He pointed to a box of Lucky Charms, insisting that the Mercury Lounge remove all of the red marshmellows are part of his tour rider.

Before the band faded into the background for the evening, they took center stage and basked in the limelight with a cracking set. They opened with "MacPherson's Lament" before a ferocious reading of their classic "On My Way Home," a song about walking the streets of the Big Apple that has been made more poignant after the events of September 11th. Hurley's sour growl, combined with the permanently raised eyebrow and wide eyes, conjured up a menacing punk rock aura.

It's easy to be fooled by appearances, however. There's a country heart that beats under the punk bile of his throat, as evidenced in the sweet "Dear Old London Town." "London Town/you took my dreams and watched me drown/along the river Thames."

So, what do you get when you combine country and alternative? Y'allternative. It's a genre that's all Hurley's, and he operates masterfully in this world.

"Gino's Suitcase" is a riff-heavy rocker that agitated the crowd like shaken up stout, as did the Pogue-ish "Shut Up and Drink." For an encore the band debuted an excellent new ballad called "Maybe Then I'll Say Goodbye" before launching into a sweet and sour cover of Rod's "Maggie Mae."

Claudia Chopek (fiddle), Ivan Julian (guitarist who played with the Voidoids, The Clash, and Matthew Sweet), Matt Lindsay (bass), Pat Robinson (accordion/piano), and "Christian" on drums make up the March, and they played a hard charging set fueled by piss and vinegar. The entire show was recorded live, and the band is planning to mix it this week for a possible future release.

"If you live in New York, and you're blood is Irish, and you grew up in London, it makes you Portuguese," jokes Hurley. This cross-pollination of cultures is evident as thirty singers from all walks of life took the microphone that evening. Rogue's March played host to a dizzying array of talent during what was billed the "3rd Annual All Star Irish Rock Revue." It kicked into high gear with "Danny Boy," sung by Mary Lee Kortes, a terrific local singer with a critically acclaimed debut CD that's turning ears around in the Big Apple. The Boomtown Rats' "She's So Modern" was sung by Ed Rogers of the Green Rooftops before Annie Golden and Lisa Burns pulled out an incredible "A Man You Don't Meet Everyday." Golden is starring on Broadway in The Full Monty and reportedly rushed from the theatre to the Mercury Lounge for her performance.

The guest stars got high profile at various points throughout the evening. Tony Visconti, the famed producer of Bowie, the Boomtown Rats, and Thin Lizzy, played bass in support of Kristeen Young during an amazing cover of Sinead's "No Man's Woman." Patti Rothberg who had a few minor hits a number of years ago (I especially loved her ballsy cover of Ratt's "Round and Round" that is a staple of her live shows), blew the doors off the Waterboys' "Whole of the Moon." Hurley rejoined the band for a sinister cover of the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen." "If the English can try to claim George Bernard Shaw, then the Irish can certainly claim John Lydon," Hurley reckons. Take this column as fifty weeks' notice of next year's revue; I know I'll never miss this annual event again! Hurley was clearly energized by the success of the show as well, and he is taking the band back into the studio to record five new tunes.