Release Date: December 13, 2012
Run Time: 57:30
2. Tell Me Ma
3. Uncle Michael
4. Ghost Ship Baltimore
5. Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya
6. Black Is the Color
7. Whiskey in the Jar
9. Mid the Green Fields of Virginia
10. Drunken Sailor
11. Johnny On the Island
12. Around the Bend
13. A Song for Letting Go
14. The Irish Rover
The best live albums are the ones which make you feel like you were at the show or even better, the ones that make you feel like you are at the show as you’re listening to them. Unless you have the bottomless pockets of a major record label on your side enabling a fistful of high quality microphones on stage and in the audience, making a live album that conveys the same amount of energy, spontaneity and, in the case of The Fighting Jamesons, pure Guinness swilling punk rock abandon as actually being at the show is no easy feat.
The Fighting Jamesons, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, on the lip of the Atlantic Ocean, give it a go and as a result produce a record that is a fine representation of the band in their glory, on stage and in flight. Live From The Capital is The Jamesons’ second release, following their fantastic eponymous 2011 record. At eight songs, that release was a fast, tight blast of Celtic punk fury blending traditional favorites with a couple of original tunes.
Live From The Capital follows that same format, offering fourteen songs of familiar sound, sprinkling some originals in there which blend seamlessly with the rest of the set. As the band opens with Rocky Road to Dublin and the crowd is asked ‘for the first time tonight, clap your hands’ you get the sense this will be a show that will require the participation of the audience throughout. It’s a little bit awkward hearing Mike talk to the audience and hear nothing back.
It sounds like he’s being ignored, which isn’t the case, it’s just the nature of the recording. That’s the sound you get when the audience isn’t mic’d. A glimpse of any of the Jameson’s YouTube videos proves an audience that excitedly participates and gives back to the band everything that is asked of them. Tell Me Ma, one of the most covered songs in Celtic music, is given an energetic treatment while the lyrically wonderful Uncle Michael, about a cherished drunken relative, and the ferocious Good Ship Baltimore all keep the pace fast and hard.
The military shanty Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya features some impressive fiddle playing by Jeffrey. The band slows things down with the beautiful tune Black is the Color before speeding things up again with Whiskey In the Jar. Sink is another aggressive and passionate song about drinking your troubles away. The most entertaining song on the record though is the rendition of Drunken Sailor which features as an intro the band doing a Celtic punk version of the theme song for the old Will Smith sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and yes, it is as cool as it sounds like it would be.
Around the Bend, with its barnstorming musical breakdowns, is a highlight of the whole show and a real testament to the combined talents of the band as a whole. They close things out with The Irish Rover, never a poor choice for a closing tune and The Fighting Jamesons end in the much the same way they began; big, loud and fast.
There’s no doubt after listening to Live From The Capital that The Fighting Jamesons put on one hell of a live show. There does exist the kind of expected sloppiness that should exist at a rowdy punk show. The songs here aren’t as tight as they are on the band’s first release, they don’t sound as full or as good as they do on that release either because an independently produced live record is going to have a hard time replicating the feel of actually being at a show or in a studio, but it’s obvious the musicians are all very talented, they play their instruments well and with a great deal of passion for the music. There are a handful of great renditions of traditional Celtic favorites as well as some beautifully penned originals.