The seven-piece Bastard Bearded Irishmen will bring the sound of Dublin-to Happy Valley this weekend with songs from the band’s recently released full-length album, “Rise of the Bastard,” a stout collection of drinking tunes and Irish-minded folk themes and shenanigans.
It’s the kind of world occupied by “Switchblade Molly” and “Paddy O’Shea”; a place where hard-living, fun-seeking characters contemplate things like a journey across the western ocean.
Danny Rectenwald (mandolin), Paul Dvorchak (fiddle), Jon Pitcher (tin whistle and guitar), Ben Jaber (bass), Dan Stocker (percussion) and Michael Hall (accordion), bless BBI with an authentic, accomplished and adrenaline-filled sound that will capture the fancy of Celtic-rock heroes the Dropkick Murphys, the Pogues and Flogging Molly.
The new album, more artistically ambitious than its predecessor, offers a few intriguing surprises, too, beginning with lead-off track “Mama” which has the gypsy-rock fervor of Gogol Bordello (for whom BBI opened a show last year.)
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Then there’s the thought-provoking ballad “Last Drink,” where the narrator somberly acknowledges his boozing lifestyle has pushed him towards an early grave. He wants to give up alcohol and preserve his fragile health, but ponders if hanging on is the same as living.
It’s like OneRepublic’s line “Everything that kills me/makes me feel alive,” though much, much heavier, via the remorseful vocal delivery of frontman Bastard. If Dropkick Murphys did a song like that, it would clear the mosh pit in a hurry.
Though before you know it, the party rages on again with album cuts like “Three Drunken Maidens,” “Bartender’s Friend,” the super speedy “Land of the Free” and “Whiskey, Rum, Bourbon & Beer.”
Hailed in a Rolling Stone article last September as a “Band to Watch from Pittsburgh,” and two-time winners of a “best rock band” contest voted upon by Pittsburgh City Paper readers, BBI has developed a reputation for rambunctious stage shows. The singer likes to climb tall objects during performances, though he never got hurt until the weekend prior to this past St. Patrick’s Day, when the band played a “St. Practice Day” gig at Rage’s Xlerator bar in Chippewa.
While dancing on stage, Bastard tried popping one of the 50 or so green balloons festively scattered around the stage and dance floor. But when he stepped on the balloon it didn’t pop, causing his foot to twist and a bone to break, BBI manager Matt Mager said.
Chalk it up as a lesson learned.
“So he had to play St. Patrick’s Day weekend, all of March and April in a boot cast and crutches, and he used a wheeled office chair on stage to move around,” Mager said. “He at least decorated the cast with green flags. We no longer permit balloons of any color at shows.”