St. Patrick’s Day has always fascinated me. The one goal of the holiday is to achieve a level of sloppy, messy drunk that you’d never strive for any other weekend.
Though the beers weren’t green, they seemed to be going down extra smooth at the CLB Armoury on March 17, for the Paddy’s Day Concert with Rum Ragged & Friends, a fundraiser for VOCM Cares.
The place was already packed when I arrived at the venue around 8 p.m. Rows of tables were filled with enthusiastic partiers, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with green hats, wigs, and accessories, their green shirts plastered with booze-y phraseology.
Spirits were high, as award-winning performers Jim Payne and Fergus O’Byrne charmed the crowd. They were excited to showcase at the event, joking that even if they hadn’t been slotted to play, they “were gonna be here anyway.”
As usual, their set was full of humour and wit, Payne joking that the plethora of green lights at the venue could be better used at the tangly intersection of Harvey Road, Long’s Hill, Freshwater Road, and LeMarchant Road.
The iconic duo shared their traditional folk tunes, leading the crowd in a singalong of The Punters; “Big Bow Wow.” O’Byrne, an Irishman renowned for his work in Ryan’s Fancy, inspired the audience to ditch the ample seating and head to the dance floor.
The crowd only returned to their seats when Payne and O’Byrne left the stage, making way for D’arcy and William Broderick.
The father/son duo opened with a rendition of “The Black Velvet Band,” attendees heading back to the dance floor for a waltz.
Opting to play slower, tender numbers, the pair changed the energy of the venue, the chit chat seeming to amplify among the green, glowing crowd.
The energy changed drastically for The Pogues’ “Dirty Old Town,” this heightened enthusiasm extending to the Brodericks’ cover of Ron Hynes’ “Sonny’s Dream.”
That quintessential tune would make another appearance later in the night, deep in headliner Rum Ragged’s stacked set.
Hitting the stage shortly before 10 p.m., the four-piece kicked off with a cover of Scottish-Canadian David Francey’s “St. John’s Train,” a track featured on their debut album.
The self-titled album was one of the most highly anticipated local releases of 2016. Two years later, the premiere album is still in heavy rotation.
The gathered fans hooted and hollered at the opening chords of each original track, like “Salt in His Veins,” “Ghost In The Fog,” and the popular single “Barque in the Harbour.”
The boys spliced cover tunes into their set, playing Payne and O’Byrne;s “Big Bow Wow,” Steve Earle’s “Galway Girl,” Kat McLevey’s “Old Shoreline,” The Waterboys’ “Fisherman’s Blues,” and Ron Hynes; “Dirt Poor,” eventually finishing off their set with “Sonny;s Dream.”
After a charity 50/50 draw, Rum Ragged returned to the stage, choosing traditional ballad “Peter Street” to close out the night.
Leaving the CLB Armoury shortly after 11, I couldn’t help think of an oft-repeated line from Payne and O’Byrne’s catalogue – “How good is me life?”