Saturday, September 19, 1998 - Boston Review - GBS ROCKS Mama Kin!!!

Ahhhhhhhh, what an incredible experience! I arrived at Mama Kin with my husband Bob and three friends just before the doors opened at 9:00. The Front Room is *very* small, and it's long and narrow, with the bar running down the left side and no more than ten tables along the right side. Though we weren't the first people in the door, we were still able to get the front table, a good thing because GBS wasn't due to play until 11:00. The club was calling the evening's lineup "College Fest", so the place was packed with college kids, and it was obvious from the start that a lot of them there specifically to see GBS. I got very excited when I realized that all of GBS's instruments were lined up at the left side of the stage, and I took a couple of pictures of them. (Yes, I brought a camera, and I took some wicked photos of the evening!

The first band came on at 10:00, and they were ok, but much too loud. We had to stuff bits of napkin in our ears to avoid permanent hearing loss. As soon as they were done, I left me seat to stand up front. I ended up directly in front of Seán with only one person between me and the edge of the stage, which was an excellent spot to get pictures of Alan. See, it's better to not take photos of singers head on because the mic will always be in the way.

Shortly after 11:00, GBS came on stage to an excited, *packed* house. Here’s the setlist, exactly as written on the original copy: ORD, DNKY, GOIN, BLACK, FAST, PADDY, CONS, LUKEY, GENER, END, MARI, WHEN. They played two more songs as an encore, so keeping in same style, they were: BAY, AUNTY.

GBS took the stage at Mama Kin as the familiar be-be-beep's of "Ordinary Day" played on a tape - do these guys know how to make an entrance or what? :-) Right away you could tell that the hall was packed with GBS fans, cheering loudly before a single chord was strummed, then singing along quite well. For “Donkey Riding”, you could tell how many serious fans were there, since this song isn’t on “Rant and Roar”. This was the first time I had heard it live, and the audience sang along heartily in the chorus. When Seán sang the “Miramichi” verse, for “where the girls sit on your knee”, Alan raised one leg and pointed to its knee, *sigh*.... Seán changed “London town” to Boston town, a thoughtful touch indeed.

In “Goin’ Up”, they barely had to teach us our “oh-oh-oh” part because we began singing it with Alan immediately. Same thing with “Old Black Rum” - this audience was primed! “Fast as I Can” was absolutely dreamy - I felt like I could melt from the tenderness in Alan’s voice. Bob’s whistle solos were incredibly soulful and I was mesmerized by the movement of his fingers as he played.

Of course, Seán acted serious as he was introducing “Paddy Murphy”, but as soon as he said it was a serious song, we knew which song it was and began to cheer. Alan’s facial expression during that song were priceless, and at one point he stuck his tongue out at Seán and sort of wiggled it. I assume that most of us were hearing “Consequence Free” for the first time, and we loved it. The sing-a-long part was fun and very melodic. The song has a happy, rollicking beat along the style of “Goin’ Up”, and I can’t wait to hear it again!

“Lukey” was another song where we really didn’t need to be taught our part, and Alan smiled at our enthusiasm. We sang along with all the verses, too. Seán was typically intense for “General Taylor”, which I find thrilling perfomed live. Alan tried to fool us in the beginning of “End of the World”, but we caught on quickly. I was completely awed by the speed of his vocals - how does he do that??? He also tacked on a tiny bit of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” at the end. Sometimes I get so caught up in his singing and stage antics that it’s easy to forget how well he plays the guitar.

“Mari Mac” was loaded with manic energy, and once more we knew our part better that the b’ys could have hoped for. I swear that they speed this up even more when they play it live, so while Seán was rivalling Alan for the title of Fastest Vocalist, Bob was keeping up with all the craziness on his fiddle. Then they played “When I’m Up”, and it was clear that they had made us all feel UP too! There was no way we could let them leave without coming back for an encore. They left the stage for a brief moment, then came back and played “Excursion Around the Bay”, which Darrell looked too happy to be singing considering the subject matter, ;-) and “Auntie Mary”, where we loved that “up the leg of her drawers” line.

Throughout the entire show, the b'ys were definitely feeling UP and in the mood to PLAY. At one point Alan said that Boston was their favorite American city, and I bet that he doesn't say that in every American city that they play. Just about everything made him smile, he was in a very happy and goofy mood. Seán seemed a wee bit reserved, but when a girl yelled out, "I love you Seán", he said, "Thanks". His hair was combed in an almost Elvis like style, still streaked with blonde, and he had nice sideburns. Bob was his usual cool and intense, and blew us all away with his amazing solos. Darrell had a permanent grin on his face, no question how he was feeling!

There wasn't an excessive amount of stage banter, I think because the b'ys were trying to give us as many songs as possible in a 50 minute set. Sometimes they ended one song and began the next with little more that a pause. Alan was looking at the audience a lot, and I'm certain that I made eye contact with him several times. I'll bet the guys noticed my NFLD flag t-shirt, too, because I was so close to the front. Note that Alan sometimes "sprays" a bit as he's singing (especially during “End of the World”!), so it's likely that at least a drop of his saliva landed on me. ;-) Of course there were many hilarious moments - one was while they were doing "Excursion Around the Bay". It was quite warm in the club, and the b'ys faces glistened with perspiration. As Darrell sang the line, "I rubbed pure oil on her face," Alan went over and rubbed the sweat on Seán's cheek! Man, I wish I had gotten a picture of that.

After the set was over, I looked over after Danny had begun his teardown, and realized that the original setlist was still on the stage where it had been at Seán’s feet, so I grabbed it! It looks as if it may have been handwritten by Alan, after comparing it to the writing in his Smoked Cod Paté recipe. :-)

I waited for a few minutes to see if GBS would come back out for autographs, but one of my friends had to be up early the next morning and I didn’t want to inconvenience her. The club wasn’t set up well for autographs anyways, so I doubt that it happened, and they’d be playing at the House of Blues in Cambridge in less than two weeks.... But, while I was waiting, I noticed GBS’s instrument cases lined up against the left wall of the club, so I snapped some pictures of them. I could see some tags clearly on their sides which said GBS 5 and so on.

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