The Eskies @The Finsbury 08/03/16

5 stars (out of 5)

0

Eskies ScrollerWhen music venues are closing on what seems like a daily basis, it’s heartening to see the success of places like The Finsbury. It’s taken a few years of building and investment, but The Finsbury’s now well established on the small gig circuit delivering a programme of music and comedy seven days a week. Which brings us to an excellent triple bill on a wintry Tuesday night in March featuring Brian Grogan, Ringlefinch and The Eskies; it wasn’t a packed house, but the enthusiasm of the crowd and the bands more than made up for that.

Brian Grogan opened the evening with a set of confessional songs focussed on fears of sexual inadequacy (plus a very interesting cover) backed by a striking combination of sparkling Rickenbacker, fretless bass and cajon and some superb harmonies. With a voice that has a strong resemblance to Ian (or Iain) Matthews, he couldn’t really go wrong. And the cover; well, it was a soft-rock version of the theme from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, with a few snippets from other tunes thrown in to create a live mash-up. Mad idea, really, but it worked.

Ringlefinch were next up, taking the tempo and volume up a few notches before the headliners with a bunch of songs full of lyrical invention and interesting arrangements featuring mandolin, resonator bass, ukulele, banjo and guitar. All good fun and topped off with a lively cover of Tom Lehrer’s “Masochism Tango” for good measure.

How do you describe The Eskies? Well, I asked their tour manager and he was struggling with the concept, but I’ll have a go anyway. You’ll find elements of klezmer, Gaelic folk, gypsy jazz, spirituals and American ragtime in there seasoned with a healthy sprinkling of the craic between songs. Oh, and a huge dollop of fun. Despite the raggle-taggle appearance, the musicianship was extraordinarily tight as the band navigated its way through rhythm, tempo and key changes at breakneck speed throughout their set, throwing in some exquisite four-part harmonies as well. The set leaned heavily on material from the debut album “After the Sherry went Round”, including “Fever”, “Down, Down, Down”, “Down by the River”, “Chin up Jack”, “Shame” and the current single “Jesus Don’t Save Me”. And there you go; a live set that left the audience gurning like loons and breathless with admiration. What more would you want from a gig?

If you want to catch this experience, you can still see The Eskies live during the remainder of their UK tour.