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Republic of Loose on Arthur's Day

It's easy to dismiss Arthur's Day as a cynical, yet cunning, marketing plot to dupe unsuspecting drinkers into drinking Guinness on one day in the year in the hope that they will acquire a taste for it. But at the same time, it sticks a lot of quality musicians into unexpected places and there's something different and refreshing about it all.

And so it came to be that I won tickets to see Ireland's hardest-working and most talented band, Republic of Loose, at Buck Whaley's. Talk about juxtapositions! Buck Whaley's is an old-school Leeson Street 'nite club', complete with surly staff and overpriced booze, and is typically frequented by shouty D4 rugger/ageing model types. And, while there were some of these about (they must live in Buck's, in a vault, deep under the lighty-uppy dancefloor), the place was filled with Loose Maniacs, but in a happy, comfortable, yes, intimate way.

When the Loose burst on to the stage, Hold Up instantly cast the dancefloor ghosts of Britney Spears's pap to rest forever. The set criss-crossed the Loose's dazzling album collection, 23, Shame, Aaagh, Police, I Like Music. "I Love Music!" You really have to experience the Loose live to fully appreciate how their music has become the bluesy, boozy soundtrack to life in 21st Century Ireland. You Know It (you know!), 13 Shots, Break and the song that made the Loose jump onto everyone's radar, Comeback Girl, which was extended for a funky duet with the crowd, the females and the males involved in a demographically-defined vocal battle. It was a draw

Mick Pyro was his trademark charismatic, excitable front man self, connecting with the crowd, playing his broken-bottle-smothered-in-honey voice like another instrument, parallels with Jim Morrison not beyond credibility. (Just take Twink's advice, Mick, and keep your mickey in your pants.) But every member of the band added layers and depth to the sound that added up to more than the sum its parts, with bassist Benjamin Loose and drummer Andre Lopes deserving a special shout-out. And that's what makes the Loose sound so funking rocking special: it's more than the sum of its parts.

Republic of Loose, To Arthur! 2012
So, when the Loose launched into The Steady Song, we feared that the whole loud and noisy and soulful experience was sneaking back into the night. The song was over too quickly and that was that. Then the awkward ringing-in-the-ears silence before the resident DJ did his 'thing'. And the clarity that comes with the realisation that the Republic of Loose are destined for greatness. Playing for the Diageo shilling was just another stop on a long journey that leads to a Hall of Fame somewhere. This is not the X-Factor. This is real life rock and roll.

Oh, and the cunning marketing ploy did work, for I drank three pints of the black stuff. It was okay, but I won't be touching it again until maybe this time next year. Outside, all that was missing was the smell of toasted barley on the night wind.

Gary J Byrnes, 28 September 2012

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Find out more about Gary J Byrnes here.

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