THAT glorious summer of 2013 may be just a dim and distant memory now but it brought with it not only sunshine and unfeasibly good humour to the country but there were some smashing gigs to enjoy too. One particular stretch in July stands out in the mind, as within the space of 10 days I got to see Bruce Springsteen in Limerick (Born to Run in sequence – yes, there was weeping), the Undertones at a sweltering Village (ringing ears and sore calf muscles – the sign of a great night out) and the New Mendicants in Whelan's.
The latter show was a sheer delight, with power pop fans of a certain age blown away by great songs and sublime harmonies. Of course, the combination of Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake and Joe Pernice of the Pernice Brothers, and the Scud Mountain Boys was always going to appeal to fans of the genre and they duly delivered. Thoroughly relaxed, sitting at what looked like a kitchen table – and was, come to think of it – the pair shared anecdotes and songs, old and new, including tracks from what would be their first album together as the New Mendicants.
Well, that collection is finally upon us and it doesn't disappoint. It's odd to think that their original collaboration, the pair both live in Toronto now, was a commission to contribute songs for the soundtrack to the adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel A Long Way Down. Hornby is an avowed fan of both singer-songwriters but writing tunes about a group of people contemplating suicide was never going to be easy and, in the event, their efforts were rejected.
Still, the pair persevered and Into the Lime is the happy result of their collaboration. Blending Joe Pernice's folkier tendencies (Sarasota and If You Only Knew Her) with Blake returning to the fuzzpop of Teenage Fanclub's Bandwagonesque days (Shouting Match and A Very Sorry Christmas) the album doesn't break any radical new ground but is the work of genuine craftsmen doing what they do best. And they're an absolute treat live.
The New Mendicants play Whelan's on Friday. Into the Lime is released on Monday.
> George Byrne