The Real McKenzies annual pre-St. Patrick’s Day party in Lethbridge is always a good time.
Their March 16 show at Average Joes was no exception. It got pretty drunk out for quite a few people. It goes with the territory at a Real McKenzies show.
I missed the opening set from the Lethbridge Firefighters Pipes and Drums.
But I was just in time for a rollicking set from baseball themed punk band the Isotopes.
I love to see a band so completely committed to a bit.
They all sported baseball hats, baseball sunglasses and even had a manager / hype man on stage dressed in nothing but a leather jacket and jock strap, swinging a baseball bat and introducing the band. Frontman Evan October, in between singing all manner of songs about baseball players, incidents and the game itself and the “Bleacher Creature Girl ” about baseball mascots and set ending “Chicks Dig The Long Ball” in his adenoidal, nasally voice reminiscent of the Dickies and Blink -182, did pushups on stage during the odd guitar solo. Musically the band drew a lot from the Ramones and their pop punk protégés.
The Isotopes began their set with several highlights from their most recent CD “Nuclear Strikezone,” including “Total Juicehead,” “Hasta La Vista, Baby” and “Situation No No.”
They also introduced a couple of brand new songs from a new CD which is due out on April 18. They lead the audience through a drunken, rousing a cappella version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and then punked the song up.
The Real McKenzies are always a good time.
The classic Celtic rockers, celebrating 25 years as a band came crashing out of the gate with “Due West” just before 11 p.m. with the first single off their new CD “ Two Devils Will Talk.” A mosh pit soon started in front of the stage early in the show.
The Real McKenzies’ exciting, and energetic set focused on songs from the new CD, though they added old crowd favourite “Nessie” early on in the set, which lead to charismatic and talkative frontman Paul McKenzie to promise he’d write a song about the Okanagan lake’s sea monster Ogopogo.
There were plenty of snarling guitars and high voltage whining bagpipes from towering piper Aspy.
But the band also showed off their vocal harmonies on a couple of a cappella Robbie Burns poems and on Stan Roger‘s Canadian classic “Northwest Passage,” which is also on the new CD and helped wind down their set.
The Real McKenzies bring back one of their very oldest covers “Scots Wha Ha’e” on the new Cd and it was a highlight of this show.
“ My Luck is So Bad,” one of my favourites from their “Westwinds” album from a few years ago was another highlight.
A newer highlight was their performance of “ Sail Again,” which brought out the more metal side of the band.
The good thing about a band like the Real McKenzies, who have never had a hit per se, is that they can do pretty much anything in their show. But they still added some set mainstays like “Mainland,” “Pour Decisions, and the always fun “ Drink With Me,” adding to the party atmosphere of their show, though punctuated from the occasional C bomb from an enthusiastic McKenzie who also shared some shots about politics. They were called back for an encore after another highlight from the CD, “Fuck the Real McKenzies, which was a hit with the audience.
They started their encore with an a capella number and cranked things up a notch for a Turbonegro cover and their usual show ender “Bugger Off” which wound things up around 12:30 a.m.