The changing face of the Irish music industry has been nothing short of spectacular since The Saw Doctors first set out on the road nearly 25 years ago. But the enduring appeal of the Tuam band has been just as phenomenal; they still command a huge fan base, none more loyal that those of their native home – the West.
Indeed, it’s hard to believe it is all of nine years since band, discovered in the back room of the Quay’s Pub in Galway in 1988 by Mike Scott of The Waterboys, headed down the N17 to play in Ennis. They take to the stage at The West County Hotel on February 26.
The support group for the Ennis concert are The Woodbines and the gig comes on the eve of the band’s departure to Australia for a three week tour, featuring a St Patrick’s Day Concert in Sydney.
Last September, The Saw Doctors were a big hit at the three-day Cois Fharraige festival in Kilkee and this summer the band has been invited to play at Glastonbury Festival in the UK at the end of June and the T in the Park Festival in Scotland a month later.
Their CD compilation, To Win Just Once… The Best of The Saw Doctors, which was released last October by Universal Music Ireland, has just gone platinum in Ireland with sales of over 25,000 copies. The Best of The Saw Doctors CD includes the bands four Irish number ones, including I Useta Lover, Hay Wra’p, About You Now, and N17, which is currently featured on the soundtrack of the Dutch Irish film, Nothing Personal, which stars Stephen Rea.
A funny thing happened to The Saw Doctors in October 2008. After a gap of 17 years, the West of Ireland rockers topped the Irish singles chart with their punked up version of the Sugababes song About You Now, beating off international artists such as Pink and Kings of Leon.
Back in the early 90s, The Saw Doctors were number one in Ireland with I Useta Lover which still holds the record for the biggest selling Irish single. The band’s first album If This Is Rock & Roll, I Want My Old Job Back, was number one in Ireland for most of 1991 and has to date sold over half a million copies.
In March, The Saw Doctors will play 11 shows in Australia, including three performances at the famous Port Fairy Folk Festival in Victoria and high profile concerts in Perth, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane. Universal Music are releasing the Best of The Saw Doctors CD in Australia to coincide with the tour.
The Saw Doctors, who won a Meteor Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, are powered by the songwriting partnership of Davy Carton, and Leo Moran. Their songs range from the plight of Ireland’s unmarried mothers to the effect of strong religion on a nation’s youth; from playing Gaelic football against a neighbouring village to loving the prettiest girl in town but lacking the courage to tell her.
The band line-up is completed by former Waterboy founder Anthony Thistlethwaite on bass guitar and saxophone, the youthful Eimhin Cradock on drums and Kevin Duffy on keyboards and accordion.
Over the years, The Saw Doctors have built up a reputation as a great live band. They have toured in Australia, Canada, USA, Sweden, Germany, Holland, Norway and the UK.
Paul Sexton of The Times in London observed that “if they could bottle the sort of bonhomie that can make an entire concert hall feel better, The Saw Doctors would have the medicine show to end them all”.