There are only so many times you can beat a drum before it just turns into background noise. Nonetheless, this is as good a time as any to say (for the millionth time, possibly) that So Cow is potentially better than sliced bread, that he would be number one in my version of Jim Carroll/Nialler9/Hardcore For Nerds‘ list of best Irish bands right now, and that going to see a So Cow gig is always a great thing to do.
I’ll fill in the peripheral detail. It was some kind of St. Vincent de Paul deal in Twisted Pepper, with a bunch of bands I didn’t really know, and then So Cow. In the upstairs bar, there was some sort of vintage clothes shop thing going on, but it wasn’t clear exactly how you were supposed to go about acquiring any of the clothes (staff were only occasionally present and raffle tickets seemed to be involved), and they also seemed primarily for women, so I didn’t pay much attention. There was also a bake sale.
Downstairs downstairs where the cloakroom is, there were some couches, a Nintendo Wii and four steering wheels with Mario Kart projecting onto a wall, and a table football table. And some tyres.
In the main floor, there was a lot of childrens’ art on the walls.
The crowd was mixed between ultra-hip, shaved-back-and-sides, floppy-fringe-on-top types, normal-ish SVP volunteer types and people who were too old to be in Twisted Pepper under normal circumstances. There were drinks promotions, but none involved Captain Morgan’s, who seemed to be sponsoring the event.
It was a little conceptually incoherent, I have to say.
But never mind that. So Cow (and henceforth So Cow will be used in the plural to refer to the Brian plus Tony and Johnny three-piece rather than just the Brian solo recording artist) delivered, as usual. The best of one of Irish music’s best catalogues was performed with the usual frenetic fervour. ‘Bat Toes’ represented the Long Long Ago, the likes of ‘Casablanca’, ‘Moon Geun Young’ and ‘Ping Pong Rock’ stood up for These Truly Are End Times, ‘Commuting’, ‘Greetings’ and ‘Shackleton’ weighed in for I’m Siding With My Captors, the ‘You’re Nice Mysteries’ repped for the (formerly) ultra-rare Wackity Schmackity Doo and even the fantastic So Cow In A Shed electronic EP was represented, in the form of the awesome Television Personalities cover ‘This Angry Silence’.
Each song was prefaced with a mention of the band’s name. It was So Cow, of course, at the start and at the end, but in between those bookends, a veritable smorgasbord of late twentieth century also-rans were invoked. Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, New Order featuring John Barnes and the hapless Reef were among the highlights.
One girl knew all the words to Shackleton, but none of the words to anything else – perhaps a reader of the Clare People? One older gentleman, a Tuam ex-pat, was a big fan of I’m Siding With My Captors, he said.
As for everyone else… it was hard to tell. Clearly very few people had heard So Cow before, but the room was full and most people were good-natured, even the row of middle-aged women who had the misfortune of sitting right next to a speaker repeating the manic drums of the unassuming yet surprisingly powerful Tony Higgins at high volume.
For me? Well, it wasn’t the ideal setting in which to see So Cow. But the set-list, concluding with the charming duo of ‘To Do List’ and my erstwhile favourite ‘It’s Over’ (no longer – ISWMC contains several trumps), was at least as good as a rollercoaster and actually must have been 15-20 songs long now that I come to think of it. The band are in good shape for the assault on America in the wake of Tic Tac Totally’s So Cow LP release, and if I didn’t know better I’d say something clichéd about the local lads coming good right now.
But I do know better. The music on that LP is just the cream of what’s been made in the past couple of years and, for the millionth time plus one, there’s no Irish band right now that comes close. Whether or not So Cow gets to falsely introduce himself on the Craig Ferguson show in the near future is irrelevant. It’s the past, present and future music of Tuam’s tunesmith that make this a boat worthy of being on.