‘Twas a baltic January night in Galway city, but the faithful came out in their droves to scope out the talent at Monroe’s Live, Dominick Street. Two sets of brothers, Scahill and Howley, were gearing up to play the finest set of tunes to be heard in town that Thursday evening, as 4 Men and A Dog warmed up the crowd with their own brand of trad. The venue was packed to the rafters, the booze did flow and the night was all dressed up. Hey ho let’s go . . .
Rarely has the stage in Monroe’s seen musicianship such as this. The best drum solo I’ve ever seen was played mid-set by two dueling bodhráns, fleet-fingered banjo solos and complex chord inversions abounded across every jig, reel and well-crafted tune of the night. Young David Howley’s voice roared, soared and crooned over the crowd while his older brother Martin’s banjo and mandolin complimented his full-throated style. Fergal Scahill’s violin and bodhrán provided beautiful accompaniment and skillful solos in equal measure, and Enda Scahill played impossible lines across the neck of his tenor banjo.
We Banjo 3 embody the rarest of combinations: skill and chemistry. The four band members evidently love playing together and entertaining the crowd, and by God, they know how to do both. Armed with tunes to make the finest song-smiths drool and synchronised stage moves to make ZZ Top green with envy, they make performing in front of a live audience look piss-easy. The crowd was totally absorbed in their show, singing, dancing, clapping and hollering along to ever tune. There wasn’t a soul in the room who left unimpressed.
The night ended in beautiful fashion with an impromptu session featuring all members of both We Banjo 3 and their wonderful support act on stage, bringing members of the crowd up to dance and have a lash at the bodhrán. The intimacy of this moment flowed on forever, bringing the night to a glorious close somewhere between 11:30 p.m. and midnight. It was one hell of a party. Here’s to another two or three!
If you haven’t yet made it to one of the lads’ gigs, check out webanjo3.com for updates on upcoming shows.