ALBUM REVIEW: TORTILLA FLAT LIVE AT OLD CAPITOL (2019)

Full blooded Highland bagpipes and chugging punky guitars from one of Europe’s greatest Celtic-Punk bands. The new album from Switzerland’s Tortilla Flat is a special dual CD and DVD release of their concert in Langenthal at this refurbished beautiful old cinema.

A week after we reviewed our first live album in over a year lo and behold another one lands on our doorstep. While The Fighting Jamesons album was recorded at a outdoor festival Tortilla Flat have chosen their headlining gig at the exquisite Old Capitol music venue from 4th November, 2017. Taking their name from the John Steinbeck humorous novel of the same name about a bunch of Californian outsiders who want to own nothing and get drunk, Tortilla Flat formed in 1991 and have at their core Chris, Ritchie and Lexu who at various times are joined by the The Independent Pipers who keep up a steady supply of expert bagpipers whenever they are required. For a lot of bands in the Celtic-Punk scene the priority has always been the live show and so for a lot of bands their releases don’t quite tally up with how long they have been together but Tortilla Flat have never neglected the recording side of things and this will be their eighth album release during their eighteen years together. Their last release being 2018’s tribute to the vinyl single The 45rpm accompanied by garage-surf-punk legend Jorgen Red Westman which we featured here.

Here’s a band that easily sits slap bang on the line between Celtic and Punk and in a scene where most bands naturally try to sound like the two biggest bands in the scene, the Murphys and the Mollys, here though is a band that tries to steer their own path. Also rather unusually they take the Celticness of Scotland rather than Ireland as their major influence. That’s not to say that a few Irish tunes don’t show up but that it’s Scotland calling the shots here.

Tortilla Flat left to right: Ritchie: Bass, Harp * Tom MacFly- Bagpipes * Lexu- Drums, Acoustic Guitar * Violin- Christine * Accordion- Asi MacHasi * Rob Highlander- Bagpipes * Chris- Electric Guitar, Lead Vocals

The album kicks off in style with a duo of great songs with the traditional ‘Scotland The Brave’ and Tortilla Flat penned number ‘The Great Escape’ getting things started. It’s the roar of the pipes that gets you going here so if you’re one of that rare breed of Celtic-Punk fans who don’t like bagpipes then this band isn’t for you. On the other hand if you love bagpipes then you will bloody love Tortilla Flat! After all their are not many bands in the scene with two pipers at its core and sometimes they have been known to have even more!

Straight away it has to be noted that the sound here is absolutely perfect. No surprise I am sure after all why bother if it didn’t but it as well as the perfect sound it also manages to portray transfer their live in concert sound to disc. Live At Old Capitol is great value with twenty-three songs and a running time of a very impressive seventy-two minutes which is almost the maximum you can fit on a compact disc. Alongside a collection of great tracks from their back catalogue such as the brilliant ‘1946’  as well as ‘Don’t Ask Why’ and ‘Tough Love’ from their debut album. On a album that’s split roughly 50/50 between covers and originals it’s the self penned tracks that stand out for me but these lads know their way around a fair traditional tune tune too with a bunch of Scots and Irish tunes that the band have been playing since their early days. Rare Old Mountain Dew’, I’m A Rover’, ‘Dirty Old Town’, ‘The Rising Of The Moon’ are among the highlights and ‘Amazing Grace’ may only be ninety odd seconds long but would give the Dropkicks more than a good run for their money and even better as it morphs into the albums standout track, the wonderful, ‘F.U.C.K.U.’! The album ends with a great run of songs from last years tribute to the punk rock 7″ vinyl single ‘The 45 rpm’ to a spirited version of  ‘Auld Lang Syne’ that sounds more like Dropkick Murphys trying to sound like AC/Dc than you could ever imagine possible. The Hank Williams Country classic ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ sees the band cast their net further than the Celtic nations and a great version though I would recommend checking out the original as well (here) before the curtain comes down with the song that burst Celtic-Rock into the mainstream Whiskey In The Jar’. When Thin Lizzy stormed the charts with it back in 1973 they were one of a handful of bands that would begin the process that leads right up to where Tortilla Flat and contemporaries sit today.

So a whopping seventy odd minutes of full on classic bagpipe’n’roll that is full of warmth and absolutely great music. The sound as as we said is perfect so a big hats off to the band and Mauro Grossud who produced it. Tortilla Flat are a Celtic-Punk band that fully embraces the culture and sound of the Celtic nations and while their are moments when you can compare their sound to others on the whole they have ploughed their own furrow and managed to come up with something that stands on its own feet. Tortilla Flat’s sound has wide appeal and it’s completely in the spirit of Celtic-Punk that their music would appeal to both punks and traditional music fans alike.

WATCH THE FULL VIDEO OF THE CONCERT

HERE

Discography

In The Grip Of The Grape (LP- 1996) * As Usual (LP- 1999) * All Hail (7″- 2002) * Dirty Old Town (EP- 2004) * At The Tavern (LP- 2005) * From Vine To Wine (LP- 2008) * A Trainload Full Of Stout (LP- 2009) * The Great Escape (LP- 2013) * Today (Single- 2013) * Forward To The Past (LP- 2017) * The 45rpm (7″-2018)

Buy Tortilla Flat Live At Old Capitol

Outsider Shop

Contact Tortilla Flat

WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  MX3 Soundcloud

If all the dew were diamonds”, Pablo said, “we would be very rich. We would be drunk all our lives”. But Pilon, on whom the curse of realism lay uneasily, added: “Everybody would have too many diamonds. There would be no price for them, but wine always costs money. If only it would rain for a day, now, and we had a tank to catch it in”. “But good wine”, interjected Pablo, “not rotgut swill like the last you got”. “I didn’t pay for it”, said Pilon. “Someone hid it in the grass by the dance hall. What can you expect of wine you find ?”

dialogue from “TORTILLA FLAT” by John Steinbeck, 1935

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