The Reverend Horton Heat
Review of his gig in Vicar Street, May 5th 2001
The band comes on stage in a blackout, and a screaming cream-cheese guitar rendering of 'The Stars and Stripes' heralds the arrival of the Reverend Horton Heat. The lights blast on with the opening chords, and Vicar Street is somewhere it has never been before. The drummer in a Thin Lizzy t-shirt, the bowling shirted Jimbo with a red double bass, flames painted up from the bottom, and finally the Reverend. His hair is slicked back from a receding hairline, and the black and white flame-print jacket, the bow tie, the white shoes, the white and gold Gretsch guitar, and the attitude and sideways smile all make sure you know exactly what's going on.
They roar through 'Big Sky', an instrumental, and straight into 'The Baddest Of The Bad', an anthem that has the already appreciative crowd pushing further up the front. The chat from the Reverend is practised and easy. It's the first time the band has played Ireland, and he explains how happy they are to be here 'in Dublin, Texas'. Later he proclaims, 'Dublin has the hottest chicks in the world, but you guys are ugly as crap'. They play, 'In Your Wildest Dreams', a cha-cha for all the little ladies, and then crash straight into 'It's Martini Time'. There's a funny thing with the Reverend. It's how good old Texas preaching sleeps right alongside hard drinking rock n' roll. One minute it's a pat on the head and a Werthers Original, the next it's a forked tongue taking the whole parish to hell. The rockabilly ballast doesn't let up, and when '400 Bucks' comes along, the heaving front half of the venue loses the plot completely.
Some more banter with the crowd to introduce the next song, and attention focuses on Jimbo. He's described as the member of the band most likely to come out of a convenience store with a copy of handguns weekly and two beanie babies. He looks proud of his tribute, and the 'Jimbo Song' begins. Everyone joins in the chorus (sing it, J-I-M-B-O) and he strikes a pose. For the second time in the show he has the double bass down on it's side while he plays, and the Reverend with his guitar climbs on top. This band have more cheese-filled style than anyone else I've ever seen.
There's more talk about Dublin's hot chicks and another dedication is on the cards, but this time the forked tongue is back out, as Jimbo grabs his crotch and they kick into 'Nurture My Pig'. When they pull themselves off stage, the roaring continues until at last they arrive back on for the 'Psychobilly Freakout' of an encore. Unfortunately, living as I do under the unwavering shadow of the last bus, I missed most of the encore (which allegedly went on till after half eleven and included a ten minute drum solo). There was more story-telling going on as I tried to leave, this time the Reverend was talking about a girl he said he met somewhere in Dublin that day, saying how in Texas, everyone knows that girls with tattoos are going straight to hell.
In a couple of songs during the set, Dublin replaced the intended city, and it was obvious this happens with the stories too. You get the feeling that this could be any venue in any city, and the chicks would still be the hottest in the world, and the Reverend Horton Heat would be just as happy to be there. But it doesn't matter, because these guys are pros. When he called again 'Can I hear a Hallelujah', I was dragging myself away from one of the best shows Dublin has seen in quite a while.