All eyes focused acutely on special guest Vyvienne Long's cello as hungry ears awaited those first blissful few notes of 'Twinkle', the opener to 1995's Heartworm, the album Whipping Boy would play in its entirety on Saturday night. Dressed mostly in black, Fearghal Mckee swaggered on stage with the same confidence and verve that made him one of Irish music's greatest frontmen all those years ago.
The voice may not be as strong as it used to be but the man's stage presence is almost tangible. In hindsight, McKee's vocal on the first chorus - "She's the only one for me now and always" - may not have been heard either way due to the boisterous singing of The Pavilion crowd.
I have always found these classic album nights (as made famous by Don't Look Back) quite odd as you already know which track is coming next which obviously removes the nervous excitement of the "will they/won't they?" question. Still, my heart was pumping a million miles an hour in anticipation of 'When We Were Young' which Fearghal, Vyvienne, Colm (Hassett - original WB drummer) and co. rode through The Pavilion like a steam train.
'Tripped', 'Blinded', and 'Personality' were all belted out with an exuberance that saw frontman McKee dive into the crowd on a number of occasions to the delight of the Whipping Boy fans, old and new . Personally, the peak of the night was an jaw-dropping 'We Don't Need Nobody Else', preceded by a a reality-biting reminder from Fearghal that we "have a big choice to make next year".
Both tracks from awaited single 'No One Takes Prisoners Anymore'/'Earth’s Last Picture' surfed the resulting Heartworm wave, holding up quite well against the nineties masterpiece. Admittedly the last few songs of the night found it difficult to live up the blistering start to the evening but, overall, Whipping Boy are certainly still a live force to be reckoned with.
December tour dates :
Wed Dec 21 – The Button Factory, Dublin (with Dead School)
Tue Dec 27 – Cleere’s, Kilkenny (with Dead School)
Fri Dec 30 – Gonzo Theatre, Cavan (with Jinx Lennon)
Sat Dec 31 – The Spirit Store (with Dead School)