John Blek & The Rats played a special acoustic show in An Réalt Dearg on Friday night with support provided by the extremely soulful Martina Stafford. With everything set for a nice and intimate show, out of nowhere about eighty (no exaggeration) folks who can only be politely described as "chatty" exploded into the pub.
This made it tough on Stafford's performance but she powered through. Her powerful voice seemingly bursting with experience despite the Wexford-born singer still being so young really struck a chord. A box accordion version of John Martyn's "Couldn't Love You More" was a nice surprise. Martina Stafford is definitely one I have pencilled in for a repeat review but hopefully the next time will be a more suitable setting.
The "intruders", who preferred to remain in the pub and both ignore and talk over the performers rather than avail of the huge smoking area outside (this was politely pointed out to the crowd by a member of The Rats), eventually began to dissipate so by the time John Blek & The Rats hit the stage everything had returned to some sort of order.*
Playing as a trio the band cracked straight into an energetic and positive set with pretty much all the tracks from their excellent E.P., A Long Way From Home, making an appearance with opener "Take Me Home" definitely one of the highlights. The harmonies sounded good and the sound of a live banjo, although it terrified me for a few months after my first viewing of John Boorman's Deliverance, rarely fails to bring a smile to my face. Seriously recommend checking out these guys the next time you get a chance.
John Blek & The Rats begin a mini-tour of the U.K. tomorrow night with a show in The North London Tavern in Kilburn but will return to Cork for Indiependence on July 30th and then will follow that up with a free show in The Bowery on August 28th.
*It may be worthwhile for venues not to book folk acts for Friday/Saturday nights if they are aware of such crowds as everybody is pumped up and chatty after finishing work, college etc.