The Brother Brothers,identical twins Adam and David Moss, played their debut Irish gigs in Donegal and in Dublin this week, as part of their current European tour. The Whelan’s show was an impressive debut played to a small but attentive audience. After thanking us for being there, they opened the show with Mary Ann,the first track from their new album Some People I Know and showed not only faultless sibling harmonies but also intuitive instrumental skills. David played a vintage archtop Epiphone electric guitar and cello and Adam played violin. Seated while playing cello, David also delivered subtle and mesmerising harmonies, while Adam played mainly violin and sang, while also adding guitar on a couple of the songs.
Their music is acoustic but compelling and complete. They also displayed a brotherly humour that covered quips about being Jewish, the excellence of Guinness in Ireland, football (the Ireland v Georgia match was on that night and might explain the smallish audience) and not least, the delight of being in Ireland. They had eaten Chinese food since arriving and told us that this was a step-up from the mac and cheese meal offered them in the UK and the complete lack of vegetables in that rudimentary fast food diet.
The unwritten set list was drawn from their Tugboats EP together with the recently released album. The humorous Notary Publicand title song from the EP both stood out in particular. Red And Gold, In The Night Time, The Gambler and Banjo Song followed and coincidently, we were told the banjo that they recorded on the latter song was currently out of action, and was therefore played on guitar. They also performed some outside material including their friend Joanna Sternberg’s I Will Be With You and Peter Rowan’s Angel Island, both taken from the album. Also included was a Delmore Brothers song, explaining that they were not a bluegrass band but had been booked to play The Bluegrass Jamboree in Germany. The booking seemed to come about because they played fiddle and they subsequently had to learn a number of bluegrass tunes to fit into their set. They had, Adam added, played some bluegrass privately but not on stage so much. However, they acquitted themselves with aplomb and also displayed elements of old time in their music. Yet they still maintained a contemporary edge, with one particular song intriguingly veering into psychedelic territory!
Many of the songs touched on deeper issues such as the manner in which their neighbourhood in Brooklyn was being bought by rich investors, forcing out the people who made the area so special. They grew up in Illinois and explained how that State had once been wealthy as a water transport hub until the arrival of the railroads had forced many businesses into bankruptcy. That they weren’t fans of their president was also expressed in passing. However, the perennial theme of love wasn’t excluded, as they closed the show with a two-song encore, the final of which was a version of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You. Their rendition did both the song and the brothers proud and showed that the intimacy of their music is capable of finding many new fans.
Review by Stephen Rapid Photographs by Kaethe Burt O’Dea