“Born into a repressed, catholic, conservative, small-town, agrarian, angst-ridden & showband infested society, The Saw Doctors are trying to preserve the positive elements of our Irish background and marry them to the sounds which have culturally invaded our milieu through TV, radio, social media, 45’s, fast food restaurants, 24-hour petrol stations & electric blankets”.
Leo Moran, The Saw Doctors
The Saw Doctors were discovered by Mike Scott of The Waterboys on a stormy Tuesday night in Galway city in the 1980’s, plying their trade with more gumption than virtuosity in the back room of The Quays Bar. Scott offered The Saw Doctors the support slot on The Waterboy’s Irish Tour to launch the ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ album in 1988 and before the tour was completed, Mike asked The Saw Doctors to support The Waterboys on their six-week tour of Great Britain in Spring 1989.
Mike Scott produced The Saw Doctors first single, ‘N17’, which was written by the band’s singer Davy Carton and guitarist Leo Moran. ’N17’ got a few plays on Irish radio and a second single was scheduled to be released to fulfil the band’s two-record deal with Solid Records in Dublin.
With Philip Tennant, whom they had met through Mike Scott, now on the producer’s perch, The Saw Doctors went to the haunted Loco Studios in Wales and put down three tracks – ‘It Won’t Be Tonight’, ‘I Useta Lover’ and ’Sing A Powerful Song’.
After much debate, it was eventually decided that ‘I Useta Lover’ would be the second release from The Saw Doctors. The Galway band plugged away at gigs around Ireland and scored an early afternoon slot at the coming-of-age Irish festival of its time, Féile, in Thurles, in August 1990. The Welsh ghost must have brought them luck for that Sunday evening, they learnt that ‘I Useta Lover’ had somehow entered the Irish single charts at No. 27, from where it slowly climbed, taking seven weeks to reach Number One and remaining on top for the following nine weeks, going on to become the biggest selling Irish single, outselling U2 and Sinéad O’Connor. The Saw Doctors were now known the length and breadth of Ireland and beyond.
Things got fast for The Saw Doctors. A Channel 4, film documentary, ‘Sing A Powerful Song’, was shot in Manchester and at a homecoming concert in the Football Stadium in Tuam and it aired in Britain and Ireland. The Saw Doctors made their first trip to The United States in 1991, a journey they have made almost a hundred times since.
Through the 1990’s, The Saw Doctors chalked up well-received appearances at numerous prestigious festivals including Witness, Oxegen and Slane Castle in Ireland; Glastonbury, T in the Park, the London Fleadh in Britain as well as at its Fleadh cousins across the Atlantic in New York and San Francisco, and garnered a reputation for being a powerful and exciting live band, playing gigs in Ireland, Britain and the USA, with the odd trip to Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Holland, France and Belgium.
A handful of singles went Top 20 in the British Charts through the nineties & The Saw Doctors appeared on BBC’s ‘Top of the Pops’ three times with ‘Small Bit Of Love’, ‘To Win Just Once’ and ‘World Of Good’. The Saw Doctors third album ’Same Oul’ Town’ reached No. 6 in the UK Album Charts in 1996.
The end of 2011 brought another surprise hit for The Saw Doctors – having included a verse and chorus of ‘Downtown’ in the show-closing ‘Hay Wrap’, the band noticed that ‘Downtown’ captured the imagination of the audience, making it a potential contender for the Christmas single. On a long-shot, producer Phillip Tennant got in touch with Petula Clark’s manager and a recording session was arranged in London where the old 60’s classic was re-vamped and recorded – ‘The Saw Doctors featuring Petula Clark’! The lively duet made it to number 2 in the Irish singles Christmas chart.
Loved & revered by their loyal fans, many of whom have been recruited by already fan friends, The Saw Doctors continue with a resilience and an effervescent energy, looking forward to playing Summer Festivals in the UK in 2023.
“ If The Saw Doctors could bottle the sort of bonhomie that can make an entire concert hall feel better, they would have the medicine show to end them all”
Paul Sexton, The Times