Welcome to America, Pugwash

Pugwash kicks into their set at The Empire in Portland, Maine, on Oct. 9, 2014. Photo by Steve Daly.

Pugwash kicks into their set at The Empire in Portland, Maine, on Oct. 9, 2014. Photo by Steve Daly.

After crossing the Atlantic Ocean two weeks ago with little more than the shirts on their backs, Irish pop band Pugwash has been tearing through the Northeast on their first American tour, 15 years after its formation.

The band – comprised of singer/songwriter/guitarist Thomas Walsh, guitarist/backup vocalist Tosh Flood, bassist/backup vocalist Shaun McGee and drummer Joe Fitzpatrick – has made stops in Hamden, Connecticut; Boston; New York City; Portland, Maine; Northampton, Massachusetts; and Philadelphia. The abbreviated tour wraps up with a three-date swing through the Los Angeles area next week.

Pugwash are traveling in a mini-van, using borrowed equipment and amps and sleeping on the couches of ardent fans in between gigs. And after a recent show at The Empire in Portland, Walsh said they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This has been a fantastic experience,” Walsh said. “The support has been great, and it’s incredible who far some people have been traveling to see us. We couldn’t have hoped for anything better.”

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Thomas Walsh scans through a story in Maine Today about Pugwash’s appearance in Portland – during the show. Photo by Steve Daly.

The success of this mini-tour already has Walsh and his band mates thinking of a more robust set of dates, possibly as early as 2015.

Drawing their sound from bands like the Electric Light Orchestra, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Beach Boys and XTC, Pugwash have five studio albums replete with delightfully catchy pop tunes, including “This Could be Good,” “Finer Things in Life” and “Fall Down.”

A Rose in a Garden of Weeds: A Preamble Through the History of Pugwash,” a compilation album released in advance of the tour, offers a great cross-section of hits through the years and provides a guiding hand for new stateside fans just discovering the band.

Their show in Portland fell on the birthday of one of Walsh’s biggest influences, John Lennon. Fittingly, Pugwash ripped through a pair of Lennon tunes, “(Just Like) Starting Over” and “Baby, You’re A Rich Man.” The set also included covers of XTC’s “Making Plans for Nigel” and The Jam’s “It’s Too Bad.”

All told, it was a pretty amazing night of music.

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