Review: The Bonnevilles, Bogan’s Bar Omagh
Saturday night and The Bonnevilles returned to Bogan’s of Omagh, this time with support from the superb Waldorf and Cannon, and what a way to kick off the month of December. I’d never been to Bogan’s before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but it is a little gem of a venue. It’s located right in the middle of Market Street and the cute entry leading to the back bar is like walking into a secret garden.
As we were arriving at about eleven, Waldorf & Cannon had just commenced their set and we could hear their best-known song, “Rise Up.” The Derry/Donegal duo are one of the most interesting and original acts in Ireland currently and Waldorf’s performance on electric guitar, harmonica and Farmer foot-drum kit is quite something. Sharing lead vocals is Cannon on bass and together they make an arresting sound. In an hour-long set, one new track called “Dear Richard” with a properly heavy guitar intro was especially memorable.
The Bonnevilles exploded into their set some time after midnight with the mighty “Good Bastards” from this year’s Dirty Photographs album. The venue was smaller than those where the band usually play, the crowd was too, but that did nothing to diminish the energy with which they rocked that stage. Someday when they play Glastonbury, they’ll rock a crowd of that size too.
After only two songs things were already getting sweaty and glasses of water were delivered to the stage from the bar. A few tracks from Arrow Pierce My Heart were next; “My Dark Heart”, and one of my own particular favourites, “The Electric Company”, on this occasion with an exceptionally long and intricate intro, just because they could.
A would-be heckler in the audience made a crack then about them needing to turn the guitar up or some such nonsense. He was soon silenced though with a combination of Andy’s sharp wit and icy stare. A rare cover version then, “Money”, made famous by The Beatles, and which is Andy tells us, the reason we are all here.
The title track from Dirty Photographs, a very sexy number, was followed up with “Poacher’s Pocket”, another of the more recent songs. The intimate size and set-up of the venue allowed the audience to really get up close and mid-set I guess someone offered to buy Andy a drink, which he declined, “no thanks, I’m driving, and there’s cops everywhere!” He then dedicated “Po Boy” to Conor Keys who was in the audience and who, Andy told us, is set to open for them at their gig in The Palm House, Belfast next Friday night.
In an age when facial hair is deemed to make handsome men ever hotter, both Chris and Andy are currently donning beards, and I must admit they do nothing to disprove that theory. Adding to their charm is the dirty, sexy blues that complements their slick onstage look. One such song is “Kneel at the Altar” from Folk Art & the Death of Electric Jesus, probably the song of the night for me. The plaintive lyrics, “Cry your tears, they leave a stain on the floor”, are stirring.
By the time it came to the last few songs of the night, the crowd were on the dancefloor and they just went nuts when they heard the opening bars of “No Law in Lurgan”, always exciting to hear and to dance to. And we were held on that dancefloor by the rhythmically mesmerising “10,000” which brought the night’s atmosphere to fever pitch.
Each time I go to see The Bonnevilles I enjoy it more than the last. I don’t know another band with such power, such grit, such stamina; the energy level never dips below maximum for the duration of the show. Nor have I ever seen a shirt as sweat soaked as Andy’s is when the set finishes. If you only go to one gig this December, make it The Bonnevilles gig in The Palm House next Friday the 7th because until you have seen them live you can’t understand the exhilaration they conjure with their music and their performance.
Tickets available here.