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On Fire

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Album Review

It seems apt that Black 47 should release plenty of live albums, given that they're a fabulous party band whose way-over-the-top treatment of their material is far more suited to live shows than the studio. Even singer Larry Kirwan's extreme vocal limitations seem less apparent in concert, his frequent exhortations to the crowd perfectly in tune with the evening. And recording New York's favorite Irish-American rock band in New York is a masterful idea, bringing in the vocal home-crowd advantage to up the atmosphere. If you're looking for any kind of subtlety, you won't find it here, just a trawl through the back catalogue, including a roaring "Rockin' the Bronx," a close-to-maudlin "Bobby Sands MP," and plenty of fun, culminating in a heartfelt, if extremely sloppy version of Peter Gabriel's "Biko." Yes, they still want to be the Pogues fronted by Bruce Springsteen with a dash of the Waterboys for emotional measure, but whatever they attempt, they end up being just themselves, which is actually far from a criticism. They're not the world's greatest musicians, but their hearts are in the right place, and by some magic, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, especially when they're in front of a roaring crowd. Think of this as the type of record that demands rolled-back carpets in the living room and a bottle of Jameson with Guinness chasers.

Customer Reviews

Great band

Introduced from Sons of Anarchy


Formed: 1990

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Black 47 (a name deriving from the year 1847, the blackest year of the Irish potato famine) is a New York-based band made up of Irish expatriates and led by songwriter/playwright Larry Kirwan. In addition to Kirwan (vocals, guitar), the band consists of Chris Byrne (uilleann pipes, tin whistle, vocals), Fred Parcells (trombone, tin whistle, vocals), Jeff Blythe (saxophone), Thomas Hamlin (percussion), and David Conrad (bass). Black 47 plays a mixture of traditional Celtic folk music, rock & roll,...
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On Fire, Black 47
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