|Lead guitarist Tosh Flood, left, and singer-guitarist Thomas |
Walsh at Molly Malone's on Aug. 28, 2015. Photo: Robert Kinsler
Touring in support of the band's new studio album Play This Intimately (as if among friends) (set for release on Friday, Sept. 4), lead singer-songwriter/rhythm guitarist Thomas Walsh, lead guitarist Tosh Flood, bassist-singer Shaun McGee and drummer Joe Fitzgerald brought a loose pub-styled approach in terms of their casual stage banter and frequent musical partial song bits offered up (Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down A Dream," Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds," ABBA's "Fernando" among them) and faithful full-length covers (The Tokens' "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" was pure joy), but when they performed their stunning original masterworks it was all business and magic on steroids.
Opening with the first track off their new album, the driving "Kicking And Screaming," Pugwash immediately showcased their ability to weave nuanced musicianship, smart harmonies and top-tier arrangements in the presentation of songs that are never less than perfect. "Keep Movin' On" (with its mix of folk and power-pop) and ELO-styled "Hung Myself Out To Dry" (the latter featuring a phenomenal guitar solo from Flood) and the wistful ballad "Finer Things In Life" were highlights of the first part of the set. "Oh Happy Days," a sparse and artful track on Play This Intimately (as if among friends) included a story of how the band got to get legendary Kinks frontman Ray Davies to sing backing vocals on the track.
|Thomas Walsh at Molly Malone's on Aug. 28, 2015. |
Photo: Robert Kinsler
Several of the troupe's strongest songs came late. The shimmering study of romantic dissolution "Fall Down," sweeping "Fool I Had Become" (a gem on the new album) and joyful harmonies-filled "It's Nice To Be Nice" assured this night was a memorable one from start to finish.
Opening the night was Los Angeles' own Cherry Bluestorms, a talented quartet that delivered 40 minutes of inspired '60s-styled power-pop and psychedelic-styled rock informed by the sonics of The Beatles, Zombies and other greats from the era.
Review by Robert Kinsler