My first encounter with Irish punkers The Undertones was seeing them open (with Sam and Dave) for The Clash in September of 1979 and they were shockingly good. Subsequent gigs seen later in ‘79 and early 1980 at Irving Plaza, Trax and Hurrah’s were all stunners. The band was one of the best live acts I’ve seen - tight, intense and loud. Their songs have indelible hooks. On every level The Undertones are right up there with The Ramones, The Heartbreakers and Suicide Commandos. They were one of John Peel’s favorite bands and had a huge following in the United Kingdom but were mostly ignored in the USA. Too bad.
The band split in 1983. Lead singer Feargal Sharkey (that’s him as a kid on the “Jimmy Jimmy” picture sleeve) released some solo material and went on to a long career in the music industry, while the rest of the band formed That Petrol Emotion in 1985.
The Undertones, Irving Plaza 1980.
I went looking for some live concert footage of this under-appreciated group to share with DM readers and and came upon this stellar video from 1981. It’s from a show in Munich, Germany. If you know the band, you’ll know what you’re in for. If, not this is a great place to start.
Here’s a terrific documentary on The Undertones.