"We didn't get dressed up for nothing," lead singer Ian Byrne said as The Elders came out for the second encore at the Uptown Theater on Saturday night. The sellout crowd had already spent most of the two-hour set on its feet helping the band celebrate its 10th annual Hoolie – a St. Patrick's Day party that showcases Irish history and culture through music and dance.
Before the Elders took the stage, the evening began with a 40-minute exhibition of traditional Celtic dances performed by the Driscoll School for Irish Dance. The dances, mostly jigs, set a lively tone for the night. Some of the dancers would later make appearances during The Elders' set.
The band played several of its older songs like the excellent "Packy Go Home" and "Gonna Take a Miracle." Both sounded great and brought a huge response from the audience.
The rousing "Moore St. Girls" kept the festive atmosphere and helped the night reach its most energetic point. The Elders followed it up with the sing-along friendly "Send a Prayer," which made for a good combo.
About midway through the show, the setlist took a tone reminiscent of nineteenth century bluegrass. The slower pace added some diversity and helped showcase some of The Elders’ newest material. The title track from last year's "Wanderin' Life and Times" sounded wonderful and featured an accordion.
"Appalachian Paddy," a song about a fiddle-playing Irish immigrant arriving in America to escape famine, drew a large response. During the song, Byrne instructed the audience members to "put your arms around each other,” which they did, making for one of the nights more thoughtful moments.
Another nice moment came during "Men of Erin." The song opened with a beautiful a capella harmony about remembering loved ones. Toward the song's end a bagpiper emerged from the upper balcony. As he played, a group of bagpipers lined the front of the stage to help finish the song.
The night ended with the guitar heavy, "Station #9." It's a song about hooligans winning an unlikely election victory. It's these sorts of songs, the ones telling a story of Irish history, that make The Elders a wonderful complement to St. Patrick's Day.
Setlist: Michael's Ride; Only Good News, Common Man; Packy Go Home; Better Days Ahead; Building a Boat; Forever Friend; Luck of the Irish; Moore St. Girls; Send a Prayer; Whiskey on Fire; Turnpike; Please Come Home; Wanderin' Life and Times; Seven Years; Appalachian Paddy; 1849; Devil's Tongue; Men of Erin; Gonna Take a Miracle; Station #9