Sir Reg: Arlington Arts Centre, Berkshire, England

The Arlington Arts centre is in the wilds of rural Berkshire, southern England. Not the most easily accessible of venues but one with great sound, lovely staff and one that isn’t shy of booking eclectic bands. Tonight was no exception; the Neil Brophy Band and Sweden’s finest, Sir Reg- both on the final night of their 11 date UK tour.

We’d taken our eleven year old son. He’s a veteran of the Celtic music scene for one so young; having seen Dropkick Murphys at Brixton Academy, Christy Moore, Tidelines and Ferocious Dog as well as having the Biblecode Sundays and the Lagan play in his living room! I mention this because he hates support acts. Hates ‘em. Just wants them to go away so the main act can hit the stage. He made an exception for the Neil Brophy Band who opened with Nice to Know, a tale of an emigre English troubadour returning to his home town after years abroad. Other stand outs from this Copenhagen based band included tales of Viking ghost ships, London boozers and the joys of being a musical gypsy. Drums, bass, mandolin, acoustic guitar, banjo, whistles and pipes all made for a full sound married to catchy lyrics and infectious enthusiasm. A great opening act and one which we will try to catch in the future. Their new album, True Stories is definitely worth seeking out.

Sir Reg hit the stage with their trademark high energy- a full-on Celtic punk assault which might have un-nerved some of the more folksy patrons of Arlington Arts. But you can’t not love Sir Reg. Sing along choruses, a perfect mix of fast punky tunes like new track The Underdogs sitting alongside quiet, slower more heartfelt numbers such as the brilliant All Saints Day. It’s always interesting to see a band who have a new album to promote as sometimes the gig can be a load of songs with which the audience are unfamiliar. Sir Reg got the balance right. New tracks were given an airing, like instrumental Cairbre, an ode to the MGN lion but older tracks like Emigrate were also thrown into the mix. The band were also very tolerant of fans like us shouting song requests at them- a request that resulted in a spirited rendition of Drinking like a Dane. They even managed to get the crowd singing along to The Wrong Bar- their brilliant cautionary tale of being so smashed that you confuse a church for a pub that saw Sir Reg joined on stage by the Neil Brophy band.

All in all, a top night. Great songs from two great bands. Looking forward to seeing them both again in the near future.

Neil Bates

October 2018