The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock


Whelan’s, Dublin

They are male musicians, of a certain age, who are intent on making music that works for them rather than anyone else, and it is for this reason that they will probably never get to headline at Irish venues much bigger than Whelan’s.

Yet it is also the reason why they are so good at what they do: nothing is allowed to get in the way of their dogged, creative raison d’être and their decidedly, brilliantly odd music.

This show celebrated the launch of their second album, The Brutal Here and Now, which – much like their superb self-titled 2008 debut album – advances the notion that Irish folk/trad can be subsumed very easily into post/prog/ psych-rock (or, indeed, vice versa).

If the pre-show intro music (Luke Kelly, straight-ahead traditional tunes) blindsided casual attendees, then the gig itself turned expectations upside down. Songs such as The Tarantella (sung in Italian), Suffer the Wait, Shudder in the West, Black Diaries, Heave the Bellows, Bóthar Crua Iarthar and The Rattling Hell take the templates thrown down by such diverse bands as Black Sabbath, Planxty, Radiohead and Opeth and weave them into something that is not only singular but also refreshingly free of artifice.

Unfurl the flags, then, for such audacity. And while you’re at it, roll out the carpets, put up the bunting and don the masks – something deliciously spooky this way comes.

The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock play Boyles, Slane, Co Meath, tomorrow, and Brandon’s, Ennis, Co Clare, on Saturday.