Saw Doctors in Fort Lauderdale Offer a Cure for Indifference

​The Saw Doctors 

Thursday, February 23, 2012 

Better than: Dare we say that better-known band from Ireland, the one whose name starts with a U... 

"Brilliant. Awesome. Life-changing," we can't take credit for those particular adjectives. In fact, those are just some of the random comments that came from various individuals who packed Revolution Live last night. They gave Ireland's Saw Doctors the kind of welcome usually reserved for a conquering hero. 

It was appropriate, however; the Saw Doctors not only conquered this crowd but made true believers of the few who weren't devotees to begin with. Indeed, the latter was hard to find, judging from the fact that the majority of those in attendance included people of all ages who were singing along with practically every song, waving their fists in the air, and making a racket so loud that it nearly rivaled the sounds from the stage. 

One young woman, Geraldine O'Brien, said she came all the way from New York, claiming she had seen the band "countless times" in Ireland and elsewhere. Jake, one of a large number of Irish expatriates dancing front and center, expressed similar devotion. And one John Greene, another lad from the home country, declared the evening's performance "the best concert they've done since the halcyon days of the early '90s, when they were a hometown band from Galway." 

I can't attest to the latter, but I can speak with some authority nevertheless. I've seen them four times. And for the record, I agree with all the above. And then some.

The fact is, this band from the Emerald Isle satisfies every craving that one could have for a live musical experience: great songs with catchy hooks; genuine, heartfelt enthusiasm; a down-home yet irrepressible demeanor; and the ability to get an audience grooving. That's affirmed by the fact they chalked up no fewer than 18 Top 30 singles back home while attracting a rabid following practically everywhere else... including South Florida, it seems. 

Their only concession to a show-biz send-up may have been the wildly exuberant polka-dotted shirt and red trousers worn by singer/guitarist Leo Moran, some very occasional coordinated choreography, or bassist Anthony Thistlewaite's switch to saxophone when an arrangement called for it. Oh, and the a cappella bit on their hit "Red Cortina," showcasing the harmonies of all five band members, was a nice touch too. 

Mainly, though, they let the songs speak for themselves. A populist and unpretentious lot, the current Saw Doctors lineup consists of cofounders Moran and singer/guitarist Davy Carton; Thistlewaite; keyboard player, guitarist, backing vocalist Kevin Duffy; and drummer extraordinaire Rickie O'Neill. They come across as simply good ol' lads of the homegrown Irish variety, boasting a stockpile of songs that are simply exceptional. 

The cream of their catalog was on display last night, from tender, nostalgic, sometimes tear-tempting ballads like "Green and Red of Mayo" and "Claire Island" -- each bearing more than whiff of nostalgia in their description of the homeland's idyllic environs -- to rousing, exuberant rave-ups like "N17," "That's What She Said Last Night," "Tommy K," and a completely captivating take on that old chestnut "Downtown," their current single and another example of their skill when it comes to rousing a crowd. 

Again: brilliant. Awesome. Life-changing. Indeed, it was all that and more. And this time, you don't have to take this critic's word for it. The crowd has spoken. We'd simply add the word "extraordinary," although even that description doesn't even begin to do this band justice. Credit the Saw Doctors with one stunning house call. 

Critic's Notebook 

Personal bias: If it isn't already obvious, I admit I've got a real bromance going with this band.

Random detail: Leo and Davy have the patience of a saint (Saint Paddy, perhaps?) After the show, they took pictures with fans and accepted the kudos as they were offered. Leo alone took 20 minutes to hear what seemed like one chap's life story. 

By the way: Revolution deserves kudos for bringing the group to town. Its efforts were rewarded with an enthusiastic, oversized audience. 

Set List 
"Macnas Parade"
"Takin' the Train"
"Tommy K"
"To Win Just Once"
"Mercy Gates"
"Someone Loves You"
"Sing a Powerful Song"
"Share the Darkness"
"Green and Red of Mayo" 
"Claire Island"
"Goodbye Again" 
"Galway and Mayo"
"About You Now"
"I'll Be on My Way"
"I Useta Lover"
"Bless Me Father"
"That's What She Said Last Night"

"Red Cortina" 
"Michael D. Rocking in the Dail"
"Why Do I Always Want You"
"Hay Wrap"

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Lee Zimmerman