Fill your pints, tighten your dancing shoes, and grab a guy or gal ā??cause the party is getting underway. The Porters are here with their latest recording "A Tribute to Arthur Guinness" and they have come to kick some ass for the pride of Ireland, even if they are German musicians with names like Sascha and Volker O'Porter. But national birth aside, this band recognizes that what the people want is good music, great beer, and a party that lasts all night. And they deliver with whiskey on their breath and steel toes on their feet, chanting "If you want your child to grow/Give him a jar of porter." The tradition of Irish drinking songs in punk clubs began with Shane McGowan and the Pogues and is still going strong with Germany's The Porters, affecting their accents accordingly. Loud guitars, pounding drums, shredded vocals, mandolins, accordions, whistles, fiddles, thumping bass, and confessions a plenty of courtly love, political commentary, outlaws, and of course many empty pints of beer in the early hours. "We are the Porters, we drink beer!" That's the anthem, get yr damn glasses filled.
On this limited release (about 1,000 were printed), The Porters (Marc O'Porter, Volker O'Porter, Martin O'Porter, Sascha O'Porter, with guests Nikolas, Christian, Olaf, and Christina) know their influences, and more importantly their music. Perfectly blending the spirit of The Pogues with the volume of the Dropkick Murphys, The Porters tear through all seventeen songs in under an hour covering the romantic portion of the human experience with honest and poetically straight forward tales of what it means to be a noble and strong person. Tales of dying for one's freedom, family, and way of life bounce from the speakers in up-tempo anthems that are as heartwarming and foot stomping as the tales of unapologetic binge drinking. Unfortunately, this record lacks a certain charm that makes this come across as just another group of Shanenites, ever emulating, never progressing, but the same can be said for any band that has attempted this style of music, so perhaps this is an unfair criticism, but the production has a bit to play in this. The delicate textures provided by banjos, mandolins, and whistles are almost completely overpowered by the guitar and sometimes even the shout choruses that abound on this record, shadowing the clever arrangements that are necessary for making this music work. Too much effort is required by the listener to hear all the music on this record, and it's a shame for the musicians are excellent in this band. On the whole, this record is a little too much grit and not enough snarl, but German pubs may have a different atmosphere than those in Ireland, though I'm not truly convinced that the characters in these songs have life, but in fact are simply characters. Is this confession or exhibition? Questions that would be forgotten face to face with The Porters, but a definite shortcoming of this record. Although, in the grand scheme of things, the songwriting and the energy are the important ingredients, prompting sing-alongs and fist pumping aplenty, for it is impossible to hear "The Leaving of Liverpool" or "The Green Fields of France" and not feel pride in being human. The fact alone that a German band is playing Irish tunes proves that music can bring people together and give us something to celebrate, namely living life as well as possible.
Arthur Guinness would be proud of this offering from the Porters, not simply for the music, but the intention behind it. This is music for humanity and a tribute to life and those that have made the movement beyond. "And when I reach the golden gates/I hope I'll not have long to wait/I'll call Saint Peter aside and say/Brought you a jar of porter."