If there is one thing that Irish people do really well, it's music. And what can be better than seeing a great Irish band live?
So, check out this list – and go and see these bands right now. Before you die. (Or in the case of The Pogues, before Shane MacGowan dies.)
1. The Pogues
Presumably, doctors are writing research papers as we speak on how on earth Shane MacGowan, legendary front man for The Pogues, is still alive. Probably Ireland’s greatest every songwriter, MacGowan has consumed enough drink and drugs to wipe out several small villages.
Thankfully, he is still alive and kicking, and celebrated his 51st birthday last Christmas Day. Sometimes, The Pogue’s concerts can be shambolic – MacGowan has been known, on occasion to get so drunk that he’s thrown up on stage. But get them at the right time, and their concerts are astonishing: full of energy, rowdiness and romance.
This clip is from their earlier days. But The Pogues are still going strong, have broken up and reformed. See them when you get the chance – or you’ll never forgive yourself.
Click here for a Pogues' classic, "If I Should Fall From Grace with God."
Just as Muslims have “the hajj”, the requirement to make at least one trip to Mecca in their lifetime, Irish people have “the U2.” This is the requirement to see U2, the world’s greatest rock band, in concert at least once. (Also referred to as the fifth pillar of Irishness.)
Both experiences can be profoundly spiritual: you may find yourself in tears at certain parts of the show, flooded with emotion. That’s how good a show U2 can put on. True, Bono occasionally can go on a bit – like when he starts reading out every article in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, when one or two will do – but nevertheless, he is still the consummate show man. If you have any bit of Irish in you, it’s your religious duty to see this band before you die – or risk an eternity of hellfire.
Here are U2 live at Slane Caste in Ireland.
3. The Saw Doctors
This band can be an occasional object of derision from uppity Dubliners. They look down on The Saw Doctors because they come from a small town in the west of Ireland, because they sing about being from a small Irish town, and because they are typically loved by people from small Irish towns. But one thing is for sure: they can put on one hell of a show.
Here they are with "I'll Be On My Way."
4. The Frames
You’ve probably heard of "Once," the movie that won an Oscar for best song in 2007. The guy who performed that song, Glen Hansard, has been the lead singer of one of Ireland’s best loved bands, The Frames, for many years. There was a time when this band was practically playing in Dublin every weekend – they simply never fail to put on a fantastic performance.
5. Christy Moore
This guy is one of Ireland’s most popular singers. A kind of Irish version of Woody Guthrie, all Moore needs to put on a great show is a microphone and an acoustic guitar. He is well-known for social commentary in his songs – he once sang a song in protest at a Ronald Reagan visit to Ireland in 1983, with the lines, "Hey Ronnie Reagan, I'm black and I'm pagan, I'm gay and I'm left and I'm free. I'm a non-fundamentalist environmentalist, Please don't bother me." But there is always plenty of humor in his shows as well – he doesn’t take himself too seriously, even if many of his songs deal with serious topics.
Here's Christy with "Ordinary Man."