Black 47 tore through a 90-minute set of their signature mix of punk, ska, reggae, rock and traditional music last Thursday at the Rat. The event, co-sponsored by CUB and the Irish American Club, included spontaneous Irish dancing, extended improvised jams and, of course, green beer.
Singer and guitarist Larry Kirwan led the band of drums, bass, sax, trombone and bagpipes through classic Black 47 material like “Green Suede Shoes,” “Fire of Freedom” and the politically charged “Big Fellah.”
Black 47 is a veteran band based in New York City that has released several albums and have a worldwide following. They have played almost every bar in New York City (they are current regulars at Connolly’s), but have also played in arenas such as Shea Stadium.
Black 47 will be touring Ireland this fall, which the Irish American Club is already trying to plan a trip around. They have played the Rat once before (three years ago) and were well-received then, too.
You didn’t have to be Irish to appreciate the music, as evidenced by the fairly diverse crowd that gathered to enjoy the Irish-rap-ska-punk.
Reminiscent of both The Clash and Bob Marley musically as well as ideologically, Black 47’s unique sound has something that will appeal to almost anyone with a heartbeat.
Crowd reaction was overwhelming positive.
“They played like they were a circus,” Ali Burch, sophomore finance major, said.
“It was hot,” Shark Michaud, senior law and justice major, said. “This is one of the better shows I’ve been at. I love the band.”
One of the highlights of the night was the Irish dancing performed by sophomore graphic design major Aoife Connolly and senior math education major Claire McGuire. The two improvised with Irish American Club President Robert Hedden in front of the stage as the band jammed out on jigs and reels.
A politically driven band, the show contained some subtle protests against America’s conflict with Iraq. During “Fire of Freedom,” bassist Andrew Goodsight chanted, “Stop this war.” Drummer Thomas Hamlin wore the New York City T-shirt that peace icon and rock legend John Lennon was famously photographed in.
Goodsight added after the show, in reference to the war, “I’m totally against it. It’s preposterous. If you want to deal with terrorism, you have to deal with the cause.”
Politics didn’t overwhelm a good time, however, and the overall tone of the show was lighthearted and fun.
The show was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. but did not begin until 6:30 because the crew member with all of the band’s instruments had a dentist appointment. This didn’t hurt the crowd who stayed around and drank casually with the band while waiting for the instruments to arrive. Black 47 had to cram their two sets into one played without a break, but as always, they gave the crowd everything they had.
Freshman communication studies major Justine Cetinich summed up the night best when she said, “They did their damn thing! God Bless the Irish!”