RACKHOUSE PILFER, Monday 2nd Feb, McGarrigles

Rackhouse Pilfer

Everything dies baby, that’s a fact.

Just one of the instantly recognisable lyrics from an always unique Rackhouse Pilfer cover. And one that rang poignantly true last night as they played their final farewell to the Monday night residency that saw the birth of the now hugely successful local bluegrass boys in Tricky’s McGarrigles.

Three years ago, a couple of distinctly less hairy young men used to sit by the fire in McG’s and satisfy their lust for a genre of music that wasn’t yet having its trendy moment. They gained traction fast, with hardcore fans returning every week and several excellent musicians joining the band, until somewhere along the way, a lot of plaid and facial hair combined with spectacularly original songwriting skills and an internationally recognised Sligo band of brilliance emerged.

Rackhouse Pilfer hold a very special place in many hearts. That was evident last night, in a thronging, sweating, heaving crowd, howling lyrics back at the band and pumping their fists in time to ferocious fiddle and banjo, caught up on a wave of nostalgia that carried the whole room to the frenzied finale the boys have perfected.

Everyone has a Rackhouse memory. At least one. I have many.

The soundtrack to an unlikely love affair, which any track off their debut album Back To The Country will always call to mind with a sentimental smile…

Dancing the night away with the most wonderfully strange strangers, waking bruised and battered and aching limb from limb…

Summer nights, when the party spilled into the street and passers-by just had to join in, because how could the craic not be mighty with these tunes drifting out the door and over our heads and up into an eleven pm dusk…

A habit formed every single Monday with some of the best friends made in years, never growing tired of the same smiling faces in the band, in the crowd, behind the bar…

Rackhouse Pilfer aren’t retiring. They’ll still be gigging around the town and around the country and plans are well underway for the next album. Their star is still very much rising, which is part of the reason this regular night had to come to its natural end.

But clichéd as it may be, this gig saw the end of an era, and the fans turned out in force to mark the occasion. Ex band members got up on stage to join in for old time’s sake, and the beer flowed fast while Tricky himself manned the door to ensure there remained just enough room to cut a shape to the tunes. The general mood was one of powerful support, celebration and deeply, satisfyingly indulgent nostalgia. It says a lot for a venue and a band that a long term residency can hold such a vice-like grip on the souls of Sligo.

We said our goodbyes to these legendary Bluegrass Mondays in McG’s last night. All good things come to an end and yes, everything dies…

But while we watch Rackhouse Pilfer take over the world, I for one can’t wait to see who the next addictive, house-packing, crowd-pleasingly beloved residency in Sligo is going to be.

Bring your A-Game, up-and-comers. You’ve got a lot to live up to.