Punch Brothers – National Concert Hall – Live Review 19-11-18 – by Paula Wiseman
The Punch Brothers were back in Dublin to play the final night of a three week long European tour, which initially began in Denmark at the start of November. The atmosphere in the packed National Concert Hall was full of anticipation and the waiting crowd knew that they were going to witness something pretty special.
Band leader, Chris Thile is a regular visitor to these shores, having only played here in March of last year. He has a deep affinity with Ireland and that could be why The Punch Brothers have decided to end their tour here.
A group of five exceptionally gifted young musicians, The Punch Brothers are Chris Thile (mandolin & lead vocals), guitarist Chris Eldridge, banjoist Noam Pikelny, bassist Paul Kowert and violinist Gabe Witcher. The band were formed in 2006 and have since released five albums and two EPs, with their newest, first self produced album, “All Ashore” released in July of this year.
They take to the stage, welcomed with a rapturous applause and begin with the gorgeous ‘Movement and Location’, a fan favourite from their 2012 album, “Who’s Feeling Young Now?”. The audience are immediately enthralled and the band continue with “My Oh My” and then the title track from their latest album, “All Ashore”. Graciously, Chris Thile talks about the three tracks they just played and tells the crowd how happy they are to be ending their tour in Dublin.
They proceed with a few songs from ‘The Phosphorescent Blues’ album but pay close attention to their newest offering, “All Ashore”. Soaring harmonies that would make the Beach Boys cry, fill the auditorium and two hours of a master class in musicianship makes everyone in the room happy to be here.
Bluegrass made accessible to everyone, Chris pogo’s and plays with his whole body lost in the music, expressing every note and chord. Banjoist Noam Pikelny speaks between songs of the story behind the new album and of how it is the bands’ cry of “God Help Us!”. The album reflects how they feel about modern-day America and the constantly changing atmosphere over there. The five make their craft look easy, slipping into a version of Claude Debussy’s, ‘Passepied’ and then playing a song about Juleps and one about Jungle Bird cocktails.
The band end their blistering two-hour set, and take their bows. The crowd’s applause and whoops are deafening and are the start of what will go on to be three standing ovations for the band. The love from the audience is almost tangible and there is a sense of reverence as the band take to the stage for the final time.
Moving to the front of the stage, the band go totally off mic and acapella, and the crowd are so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. The song is played and for a final time, the crowd erupts, yelling for more. The band leaves the stage, buoyed by the love of the Dublin crowd. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we see The Punch Brothers back on these shores again.