Rovers Ahead

support Punk Mahone
author PP date 18/03/16 venue High Voltage, Copenhagen, DEN

Nine years ago, a group of guys with a love for Irish musical culture got together and started playing tiny pub showcases at The Irish Rover in Copenhagen, which allegedly also inspired their name, Rovers Ahead. What they didn't realize at the time was that the coming decade would prove they were exactly the kind of party punk band Copenhagen had been missing for some time, and word quickly started spreading about the drunken but jolly storytelling ability of vocalist Nathan Corcoran and the danceable, folksy, violin and mandolin/banjo-driven melodies Irish style. A regular at our well attended St. Patrick's Day events each year, Rovers Ahead also made a name for themselves through raucous live shows where high energy and an excellent crowd dynamic dominated throughout.

A decade playing as a band takes its toll, however, and with family and work lives outside of the band preventing the touring, writing, and recording process that full-time bands go through, Rovers Ahead called it quits and announced they would play one final show in Copenhagen. Unsurprisingly, the interest was huge and an enormous line formed outside High Voltage around the scheduled opening of the doors.

Punk Mahone

Punk Mahone

For tonight's supporting cast, the organizers had hired Helsingborg, Sweden's version of Rovers Ahead to set the tone of the night. They waste no time in setting the mood: as they get ready to go on stage, we're treated to a lengthy instrumental Irish folk song complete with flutes and the whole shebang. From what I could gather, the band is primarily a cover band for other, far more famous bands, because the vast majority of the songs played tonight were originals by Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, The Tossers and other bands. Like most other Irish-themed bands, they are fronted by a rough looking fella who resembles a hooligan, and they have plenty of traditional instruments in the mix from violins to mandolin and banjo. When they play, they look much like a street/Oi! band with their confrontational look and fist-pump inducing appearance, even as they go through classic folk punk songs one after another. We start with The Tossers' "Whiskey Makes Me Crazy", go through "Shipping Up To Boston" and "State Of Massachusetts" by Dropkick Murphys, and finish off with Flogging Molly's "Drunken Lullabies" later on.

Punk Mahone

Common to all covers is how loosely they are played. The vocals are a far cry from the original tunes, which any fan of said bands would have recognized immediately, and the energy on stage is also not particularly impressive. None of that seems to matter for the majority of the crowd, however, who happily chant back the Woo-hoo parts to "Shipping Up To Boston" and the rest of the hits. Eventually, the band is joined on stage by an unidentified guest female vocalist, whose energetic bouncing and hip-shaking puts the rest of the band to shame, who look inactive in comparison. The alternate vocals between her and the lead singer's rough Irish croon is a good dynamic, which changes the show's style completely, but it's too little, too late for the undersigned. The lackluster covers and no original material basically draw the obvious comparison to any given pub rock band, which is fun for a moment but not really designed for music enthusiasts by any measure.

Rovers Ahead

Rovers Ahead

Even if you did enjoy parts of Punk Mahone's set just before, it becomes blatantly obvious which one is the better band tonight from the very moment Rovers Ahead steps on stage. The stage area is as crowded as I've seen it in High Voltage, and the dance party starts pretty much from the first second of their set and doesn't cease until the very end. Crowd surfers are performing dangerous stunts in the small confines of the venue, flipping into the ground and at least on one occasion knocking a girl nearly unconscious towards the back left of the venue (she's OK, though, but still... come on guys). People are dancing arms locked. Beer is flying everywhere as hopeless attempts to cross the dancefloor are made by brave individuals trying to reach a better view from the back of the venue. Generally, everyone's having a jolly good time and the great crowd dynamic only fuels the band to up the ante. "My Dear Father" and especially old classic "Went Out To Get A Drink (But Ended Up In Jail)" draw a great reaction from the crowd where madness ensues for the latter track.

Rovers Ahead

We're about three months separated from Christmas, yet the band opt to play a Christmas carol they recorded in the run-up to Christmas last year. "Anyone seen snow?", Nathan asks in his charming Irish accent, contributing with charisma and funny jokes as he has been doing all night long. Tonight,the band take many opportunities to tell us small anecdotes about the different songs, which is fitting for a last ever show, but take care to not ruin the flow of beers whiskey dancing by having too many interruptions. As usual, Nathan exits the stage at one point so we can hear the gradually increasing tempo of their instrumental Irish folk songs, which also gives an opportunity for the second face of the band, guitarist Lasse Elmer, to make his way to the High Voltage center bar to dance and play together with accordion player Kaare, placing both far up above the crowd. Predictably, the crowd goes crazy at this point and the dance fest intensifies.

Rovers Ahead

This is pretty much the pattern throughout the show tonight. Rovers Ahead cycles through most of their back catalog while the crowd enthusiastically sings along, crowd surfs, moshes, and does everything right to create a memorable dynamic and an appropriate farewell for Rovers Ahead. Lasse thanks everyone in the crowd for supporting the band in the last nine years from critics to fans to friends and other bands, before they swiftly exit the stage before returning for an encore. Here, "King Of Nothing" and especially "One Mad Night At The Pub" finish the set off in style and reminds us just how talented songwriters Rovers Ahead really were. It's a shame only one album came out of it, because their best songs are easily on par with the bigger international names in the genre, and losing such a steady presence in the Copenhagen scene is going to leave a gaping hole for quite some time in the future.

8

Photos by: Kasper Erichsen

Comments
comments powered by Disqus

Legal

© Copyright MMXX Rockfreaks.net.