In a months time two of Ireland’s most interesting bands go head to head on the same night in north London. Aye some eejit has booked them both to play 15th December in Camden only a few hundred yards apart. We are caught in a dilemma of which one to go to ourselves so here we present the evidence and leave it for you to decide!
Aye that’s right two bands with crossover audience and fan base and mutual appeal be will playing just up the road from each other. The Scratch are at the Camden Underworld and The Mary Wallopers just the other side of the tube station at the (still Irish owned) Electric Ballroom. I looked it up and it’s all of 459 feet that according to Google takes one minute to walk would you believe! The usual practise in these circumstances, according to Greenford Bhoy, is to go and see who you’ve seen the least but as none of us have ever seen either band before that’s not a option. Never mind it’s the week before Christmas and there’s gigs galore in London but to put these two fantastic bands up against each other is a crime against music! So in act of supreme impartiality here’s a potted history of the bands, a recent video and a live stream performance to help you make up your minds and wherever you choose to be on December 15th we’ll meet you half way up by the tube station for a can of beer/s before the show!
Started as a fun experiment in the kitchen of a house in Perrystown, The Scratch are a 4-piece acoustic act from Dublin. Born from a shared love of acoustic guitar, metal and trad Irish music, The Scratch have moulded triumphant melodies with the groove and intensity of metal.
A 2017 busking trip to Rory Gallagher festival in Ballyshannon kick-started the journey, as a video of the band busking racked up an astonishing one million views in just a week and was shared around the world. An invitation to play Dublin’s Whelan’s followed, and then a string of Dublin headliners in increasingly bigger venues, each one sold out before doors. Most recently their Academy Dublin show sold out in just four days. Their first UK show in The Camden Assembly was also sold out ahead of time.
Their first EP Old Songs was released in 2018, a collection of older instrumental material. Next came stand-alone singles and crowd favourites ‘Get It Right Up’ and ‘Punisher’ that summer. 2019 saw the release of The Whole Buzz EP as well as singles ‘Cúnla’ and ‘Flaker’, with a marked development of their songwriting style and sound. The Whole Buzz further cemented The Scratch as one of the best trad revival/metal crossover acts in the country and one of the most exciting acoustic acts in the world with high energy acoustic riffs and soaring melodies
2020 saw them tour the UK for the first time, play their biggest shows to date around Ireland, as well as some of Europe’s biggest festivals. With Covid-19 changing the industry and indeed the world for a large portion of the year, the band released their debut album Couldn’t Give A Rats. The album received critical acclaim, scoring top 10 album in Ireland, a 4 star review from The Irish Times and Hot Press describing it as one of the “boldest Irish debuts in recent memory”. The band finished their rescheduled UK/Irish tour and was almost entirely sold out, including a date at London’s Boston Music Room and an unforgettable sold out show at the Olympia Theatre Dublin, their biggest headline gig to date.
It is impossible to fully understand this band without seeing them in the live environment, where they challenge anybody to come to a show and not leave with a smile on their face.
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THE MARY WALLOPERS
Ahead of the release of their debut album – expected this autumn – The Mary Wallopers are back with a new single, ‘Frost Is All Over’, as well as an accompanying music video.
To coincide with the release, the raucous Dundalk folk group have also announced a major tour, with new Irish dates in November and December – including a headline show at The National Stadium in Dublin on November 17. Tickets go on sale this Friday.
‘Frost is All Over’ is a traditional Irish song about taking everything in your stride and not caring about what everyone says you should care about,” The Mary Wallopers say of the new single. “We added the verse about landlords as we feel they are a sensitive sort who need reminding of how much we care about them. It was recorded by Chris Barry in his Dublin studio in 2021. It’s an old song made famous by Planxty.
“The video was shot by Sean McMahon and the set was designed by Mark Sheridan,” they continue. “Sean is from Dundalk like us and has worked on our livestreams before. It was shot in the old AOH Hall in Blackrock, Dundalk, which local music legend Conor Hughes allowed us to use. The video is our way of introducing the new band and how sexy we have become over lockdown. Our home studio / pub was too small to fit everyone in so we had to branch out but still keep it Dundalk.”
Originally made up of brothers Andrew and Charles Hendy and their friend Sean McKenna, The Mary Wallopers have recently expanded to a seven-piece for live performances.
With their trademark combination of charm, irreverence, staggering talent and a fiercely DIY ethos, the group have rapidly established themselves as a captivating force in Irish music. In 2019, they released their acclaimed debut EP, A Mouthful of The Mary Wallopers.