Sure you know that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band play marathon shows and at their age it is impressive, but have you ever heard of this little trio of elderly men from Dublin who play just as long as the Jersey boy? Meet The Wolfe Tones, the quintessential Irish Rebel Band who kept going and going into the early morning at Connolly’s while a Guinness fueled festive crowd sang along.
Brian Warfield (Banjo), Noel Nagle (Tin Whistle) and Tommy Byrne (Acoustic Guitar) are amazingly celebrating their 49th year of playing their brand of folk music together and they have been showcasing their style to big crowds at Connolly’s leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.
While the set list hasn’t changed much over the years, the truth is no one really wants it to (but guys could you update the cheesy PowerPoint images projected on stage?). The players get to tell their stories, weaving in history lessons with the tunes, while the crowd listens intently before joining in on their favorites. They opened the night with their eerie take on “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, but not the version you are probably thinking of, this was the trio’s interpretation of the John Lennon tune of that name.
After that the sing-a-long’s started up for “God Save Ireland” before the waltzing “Give Me Your Hand”. Unabashed supporters of all efforts to remove England from Ireland the group proudly proclaimed “The Boys of the Old Brigade” with lines like “T’wasn’t long ago we faced a foe/The old brigade and me/And by my side they fought and died/That Ireland might be free”.
The group isn’t completely focused on that struggle though as they broke out “Swing A Banker” which criticizes our current financial situation, complete with a bizarre chicken dance from Warfield. The group also added some upbeat goodness with their tune written for the Celtic Football Club, “Celtic Symphony”.
Other major highpoints on the night were the chant worthy, “You’ll Never Beat The Irish”, the touching “Streets Of New York” and the somber “Joe McDonnell” which remembers the hunger strikers of 1981 gloriously. The band is planning on wrapping up touring after their 50th anniversary next year, so catch them while you can, just be prepared for 3+ hour extravaganza of Irish Rebel Folk.