There are Irish bands who out-punk them (Dropkick Murphys), out-rock them (Flogging Molly) and out-folk them (The Irish Rovers), but no contemporary Irish music group playing trad and genre-bending forms of it play with the level of musicianship, showmanship, artistry, pageantry, and pop sensibility that Gaelic Storm have consistently exhibited across the globe and across their two decades together.
Comprised of lead man/accordionist Patrick Murphy; Guitar slinger and singer, Steve Twigger; Percussionist, Ryan Lacey; Piper Pete Purvis; and Fiddler Katie Grennan; Gaelic Storm have been at it for 20+ years.
As longevity goes in Irish music circles, they are still relatively young but if reputation and ticket/world album sales are a barometer for legacy, they may be well on their way to joining the ranks of classic Irish music greats.
This Friday night at The Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio, the audience skewed 10-20 years over the drinking age and their plastic cups and aluminum cans were raised just as high as the spirits of all in attendance when drinking songs “Raised on Black & Tans,” “Whiskey Johnny,” and The Beer Song” were performed by the multi-national Celtic juggernauts.
With dad-level zingers to the kids from singer/accordionist Patrick Murphy “if your parents don’t buy you a Gaelic Storm t-shirt, it means they don’t love you,” to the enthralling duel of the pipes (Pete Purvis) and fiddle (Katie Grennan), and the pre-requisite (but no less awesome) local Irish step dancers in tow, Gaelic Storm know how to put on one hell of a show.
And then there was Alexa.
Alexa, the fifteen year-old Columbus area fan, who was all the way in the front, made it her birthday request to come see the band she loves (#winningparenting).
Whether it was an all ages show or not, it was one for the ages and one that birthday girl, Alexa and most everyone else will not soon forget. Others trying to fit seven drunken nights into one may not have been so lucky.
Singing along and dancing to crowd pleasers and fan favorites, “One More Day Above the Roses,” “The Night I Punched Russell Crowe,” and the 2001 hit that could be described as their own “Creep,” “Johnny Tarr,” I and everyone else lucky enough to be there were treated to a night of charming, moving, jovial, and sweet music that made a strong case for Gaelic Storm being the greatest modern Irish music group in the world.
Gaelic Storm are currently on their US tour and Go Climb a Tree is available everywhere now.