The Eskies At Whelan’s – Review
The Eskies performed a sold out gig in Whelan’s on Saturday, 2 April. Pretty standard stuff, right? No, because this wasn’t simply another knees up that the Eskies are renowned for – it was a thank you gig. If you’re not familiar with what happened to the band just a month ago then here’s a very brief summary. The band had just performed a series of successful gigs in the UK and were touring in Milan when their van was robbed, right outside their hotel as they returned the room keys. Along with an array of possessions, their tour money was also taken. However, this wasn’t just a matter of materialism. This blatant thievery had, in a split second, dealt a devastating blow to the band.
In the series of posts and videos they posted to their Facebook, it was obvious that the band were distraught. The greed of one party had left a group of hardworking and talented musicians down on their luck. Yet, in what appeared to be the band’s lowest point, a glimmer of hope shone through: their fans’ unwavering loyalty. Michelle Geraghty, one of their many devoted supporters, set up a GoFundMe page. Suddenly, the band were inundated with well-wishers, words of kindness, and donations. What became apparent was, while the money had been taken, what it represented had not been diminished. In fact, respect for the band, who continued to tour and remain optimistic, continued to swell. Their fans and their efforts highlighted that brilliance is not measured financially but in respect and loyalty. A musician or band can have all the luxury and status they wish but true musical talent is marked by the unwavering support of fans.
So, returning to Ireland, heralded as the champions they were, the Eskies sought to reward their fans. They decided to hold a free gig in Whelan’s to thank their supporters – the tickets were snapped up in a matter of minutes.
Arriving on stage, the band looked out into the audience and the pride visibly crossed their faces as a rapturous applause shook the venue. What was truly admirable about how the band acted was the central message of their show. It wasn’t a pity party, it was a combination of triumphant homecoming and gratitude to their fans, all rolled into one. Their performance was tangibly tinged with gratefulness and the show’s pace never once faltered. The energy was relentless as the band performed their combination of folk and gypsy rock. They played an array of songs, drawing upon tracks that they had first performed to their “parishioners” at KnockanStockan as a fledgling band and others of their latest EP. Fans were so awash with delight that many were audibly refusing to go to the bar for fear of missing out on a moment of pure triumph and musical prowess.
Songs like ‘Down by the River’ and ‘Tear along the Line’ have an infectious energy that leaves every single audience members jigging their knee or throwing a quick ‘Yeow’ of delight in throughout the performance. The band almost feed of the energy of the crowd, each track building with every ‘Whoop’ and whistle the audience intermittently bellow out. No one can ever accuse the Eskies of taking themselves too seriously as performers, their shows are a formidable combination of craic and classic Irish talent.
The band perform well past their scheduled run but no one really minds. In fact, the audience seem like they would gladly waste the entire weekend in the company of the Eskies if Whelan’s agreed to it. The real attraction with the Eskies is how they perform – there’s a casual manner to their stage presence. They openly mock and encourage each other in equal measure, sharing anecdotal snippets with the audience. The Eskies make you feel as if you’re watching old friends perform, with swelling pride emerging with each song they sing. Indeed, one can only feel respect for a band who hit a low point like the Eskies did and come out fighting, putting on one of their best shows to date.