Hooligans in Suits:
Live in the UK

(Clandestine, 2000)

This is an edgy, sometimes frantic live recording by New York City-based band Lenahan performing its distinct brand of Celtic rock for a British audience.

The band is Tom Lenahan (vocals, guitar, Highland bagpipes, tin whistle), Clarence Ferrari (fiddle, guitar), Rich Graziano (drums, percussion) and Mike Kilmer (bass guitar). Founder Lenahan, a Chicago rhythm 'n' blues folk-rocker who previously fronted The Clan (dubbed America's first Celtic folk-rock band in the liner notes), leads the way with enthusiasm and flair.

The album was recorded at England's Gosport Easter Festival in 1998. The boys in the band don't hold back, rocking away with the best of 'em, imposing their bluesy riffs on Celtic tunes with a vengeance. Highlights include a rockin' rendition of "Lanigan's Ball" with its Chicago blues standard "Hideaway," the blistering set "Green Grooves" and the bagpipe jam "Dudelsack Blues." Also worth noting is Lenahan's bouncy original song, "Day Ever Comes," built on the melody of "Little Beggarman/Red Haired Boy" (although the pro-gun verse seems a bit gratuitous). His "Look to the Mountains" and "Drink Takes a Man" are perhaps the album's best slices of rough-edged blues from the south side of Chicago. On the other hand, Lenahan's bagpipe-reggae effort, "Islands in the Storm," is tiresome.

The members of Lenahan have years of Celtic-rock experience under their collective belt and, apparently, energy to spare. They unleash its full fury on their British audience for this recording and, fortunately, you can come along for the show.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 15 September 2001

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