The veteran band, featuring founding members Davy Carton (lead vocals and guitar) and Leo Moran (lead guitar and additional lead vocals), is another fixture in a long line of irreverent Irish rockers. However there is a big difference between the Saw Doctors and bands like Black 47 and U2. Carton and Moran direct most of their frequent barbs at the Roman Catholic Church in lieu of the events and individuals resposible for Ireland's tumultuous and often sad political history that the other two bands prefer. There is nothing like "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Year’s Day" (U2) or "Bobby Sands MP" and "James Connelly" (Black 47) in their repertoire.
The Doctors are not a jam band in the least. Their songs are all compact, and to the point. They played almost thirty songs in just a little less than two hours. Both Moran and Carton are very personable and the whole band (now including Anthony Thistlethwaite, formerly of the Waterboys, on bass) are good musicians, but a Saw Doctors performance is not about instrumental chops. It is about the songs and the vibe that goes along with it.
As usual, World Café Live may be the best venue in Philadelphia to see a concert. The place has great acoustics. Even with a loud rock band onstage the instruments were crystal clear, and the vocals were not buried under the avalanche of electric instruments. When the seats are removed, as they were for this show, it feels like a rock palace yet it is small enough to have an intimate view no matter where you are standing.
The Saw Doctors have recorded two live CDs. Live In Galway is easily available through all of the usual retail and Internet outlets, and New Year's Day, a limited edition in which all proceeds go to the tsunami victims of Sri Lanka, is available only through the band's website.