- Live Review
- 06 Jun 23
The Mary Wallopers' incredible Sunday night performance at The Academy in Dublin was their second of three sold out shows in the venue. They were supported by Dublin based folk group The Deadlians.
The hugely successful Dundalk folk group The Mary Wallopers took their talents to the Dublin stage this bank holiday weekend, playing three sold out shows in The Academy across Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The group blends old Irish trad ballads with a youthful exuberance and energy that crowds here and beyond have grown to love. Releasing their first studio album last year, self-titled The Mary Wallopers, the group have seen huge success, and are set to release another album in the coming months.
The group is made up of brothers Charles and Andrew Hendy, as well as Sean McKenna. Charles and Andrew show a particular craft as musicians, with each playing the guitar and bodhrán during their live show, while Andrew also played the banjo. The Mary Wallopers’ band also included Seamas Hyland on the accordion, Roisin Barrett on bass, Dubliner Ken Mooney on drums, and Finnian O’Connor on the tin whistle.
The Mary Wallopers’ Sunday crowd were kitted out in Hawaiian shirts, with sunglasses perched on their sunkissed foreheads. For most, this gig was the end of what was a sweltering and gorgeous summer’s day, and with most off work the following day, spirits were high.
The Mary Wallopers were supported by The Deadlians, who played a superb short set for the early audience. The band play a mix of both folk and punk rock, blending violins with electric guitars. They no doubt gained a few more supporters across their three nights in the Academy, and whet the appetites of all who saw them for The Mary Wallopers’ performance.
Before a note had even been played, The Mary Wallopers raised a roaring crowd as they came on stage at around a quarter to 9, pints in hand, amusing their audience with jokes about last night’s crowd. The band immediately set their audience the task of outcheering their predecessors, as Charlie asked “Are you gonna be better craic than them cunts last night?”, a remark which immediately took the roof off the place, with a cacophonic chorus of cheers from the crowd. Brother Andrew added: “it must’ve been a Garda Christmas party last night,” which earned a laugh from the room, and a buoyant cheer.
The band’s early songs immediately set the tone for what was a frantic live show. 'Rothsea-O’ and ‘Bold O’Donahue’ lit up the academy, as well as their new single ‘The Holy Ground’, a rousing tune with all three frontmen belting out every word.
Their next song, ‘The Rich Man And The Poor Man’, was described as a song “about rich people when they die and go to hell”. The band are blunt in their approach to music and perhaps to life, but have an indescribable charm about them. Typically artists, and typically Irish, they take a cynical look at the world, but do so with a smile on their face.
The crowd were well in awe of them at this point, and ‘Lots Of Little Soldiers’, ‘As I Roved Out’ and ‘The Night The Gards Raided Owenys’ were all received with great acclaim by the excited crowd. The band followed with a succession of slightly slower songs, with a series of more melancholic ballads sung by each member of the band.
Alone on the stage, bodhrán in hand, Andrew played ‘John O’Halloran’. He gave a beautiful rendition of Danny Doyle’s classic, one of the perhaps less noticed moments of the night. After his solo performance, he spotted a crowd member on facetime to a friend, and pulled the man’s phone onto the stage, sharing his point of view with the person on the end of the phone, and warranting a rapturous cheer from the audience. When he asked why the facetimer wasn’t at the gig, he then discovered why. “On fucking holidays. Well for some,” Hendy joked.
Andrew’s brother Charlie followed with his performance of ‘Wexford Town’, a cover of Pecker Dunnes’ song that the band are set to release on their upcoming album. Charlie gave a heartfelt performance, and made a particularly sweet connection with one audience member, who sang every line of the song along with him. Genuinely touched by the moment, Hendy pointed at his fellow music lover in the crowd: “Was that you? Oh, you’re well loved.”
Sean McKenna then followed with a cover of ‘The Hackler From Grouse Hall’, and after the series of slower ballads from the group, and with the whole band now back on stage, the band wooed a rising crowd with ‘The Turfman From Ardee’, as well the band's brilliant cover of The Dubliners’ famous ‘Building Up And Tearing England Down’. The song was an expected crowd favourite, and had the place bouncing.
Before the band took a very short break before the encore, they played the likes of ‘Eileen Óg’, ‘Frost is All Over’, and ‘Hot Asphalt’, as well as the band’s most popular song, ‘Cod Liver Oil And The Orange Juice’. Having earlier teased a big surprise coming later in the show, the band introduced the legendary Kevin Shields to accompany them for the rest of their songs on the tin whistle.
By now a frenzied crowd were creating moshpits at the chorus of every song. The Mary Wallopers’ Sunday crowd was quite possibly the most ballistic crowd I have ever seen at a gig. As the room seemed to near 60 degrees celsius, the band’s fans continued to party on, dousing themselves in a flurry of flying pints. A number of crowd members even took it upon themselves to surf across the outstretched limbs of their fellow gig goers, and only for intervention by the venue’s security, some of them may well have surfed all the way on stage.
The band briefly exited the stage to jubilant cheers and adoration, followed by expected renditions of ‘One More Tune’ and ‘Ole Ole Ole’. It was surprisingly the only time in the night that the crowd found their voice for a few Ole Oles. Perhaps the heat and exhaustion took its toll on their voices.
The band returned for two final songs, with the whole venue jumping for ‘Blarney Stone’. Their final song, ‘All For Me Grog’, capped an invigorating and incredible 90 minute performance, by a band set to conquer bigger and bolder things in the future.
The group have endeared themselves and Irish folk music to a new generation, and kept the stories of their fathers and grandfathers alive in song. Their music is upbeat and dynamic and their live performances are simply sensational. By god, even if their music isn’t quite to your taste, the craic seeing the band live was fierce. The Mary Wallopers in their music and their spirit are quintessentially Irish, and a band I couldn’t recommend seeing live more.
Check out some snaps from their Sunday gig here, and listen to the band's latest single below:
- Live Review
- 29 Jun 22