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Year of the Stef

I was feeling hungry as I headed out to The Mighty Stef show at the Sticky Lips Juke Joint on Thursday night. It would be the final local concert for the Irish rock quartet. The band made Rochester its home base during its North American tour.

When I caught The Mighty Stef's gig at Sheridan's Pub on a hot August night, it completely blew my sock off — literally, I needed to remove a sock in the venue's bathroom.

Would this concert blow my sock off again? Would the Mighty Stef go out in a blaze of Bar-B-Que smoke? The juke joint was jumping with fans ready for one more show.

The Mighty Stef's set-up on the sticky stomp stage was minimal, down to the drum kit that only consisted of a floor tom and snare. Lead singer and guitarist Stefan Murphy wore a House of Guitars T-shirt while the rest of the band — Brian Farrell, drums, Gary Lonergan, bass, and Daniel Fitzpatrick, guitar — looked comfortable performing in front of the faithful.

The opening number, "Death Threats," kicked things off. In a nutshell, "Death Threats" demonstrated several truths about The Mighty Stef: The band has a knack for writing epic songs; sometimes there is a dark streak to the lyrics; and Stefan Murphy has a classic voice, while the cohesion of his band makes this group a great live act.

Although the band's new album, "Year of The Horse," had not officially dropped, the crowd seemed familiar with the material.  A personal favorite, "Ceremony," was reminiscent of Manchester bands circa 1979. Farrell pounded the snot out of his drums while Lonergan laid down a foundation of driving bass lines for Fitzpatrick's hypnotic riffs.

The audience grooved along the edges for upbeat numbers that featured three-part vocal harmonies like "Down at the Radiotron" from the band's debut album, "The Sins of Sainte Catherine."

When a bit of guitar jangle was added, it made The Mighty Stef sound like a country band. I could hear the ghost of Johnny Cash in between the notes of "Sunshine Serenade," a tune that could have used a campfire.

The Mighty Stef's set concluded with a vigorous rendition of U2's "I Will Follow." Stefan Murphy kicked his guitar, Brian Farrell tipped over his drum kit at the end; the audience wanted more, but when a band does that, you don't get an encore.

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