Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dropkick Murphys at Irving Plaza

Dropkick Murphys formed as a Celtic punk band in 1996 in Quincy, Massachusetts. The Boston-based band, named after professional wrestler John "Dropkick" Murphy, first began playing in the basement of a friend's barbershop. Starting as a punk rock band, the band members found that their Irish music roots influenced the way they sounded and eventually embraced and enhanced that element. Dropkick Murphys gained a reputation for its raucous live shows, especially around St. Patrick's Day. The band also became known for its socio-political activism, particularly regarding labor unions, and for its philanthropy around American war casualties. The band's eighth and most recent studio album, Signed and Sealed in Blood, was released in 2013. The band presently consists of sole remaining original member Ken Casey on bass and vocals, vocalist Al Barr, guitarist James Lynch, multi-instrumentalists Jeff DaRosa and Tim Brennan, drummer Mat Kelly, and Scruffy Wallace on bagpipes and tin whistle.

Bringing the U.S. leg of the Celtic Punk Invasion Tour to Irving Plaza, Dropkick Murphys sounded exactly as one would expect. The approximately 90-minute set was equal parts punk and Celtic-rooted music, about as blended as a lumpy Irish porridge. As a recording of the Irish ballad "The Foggy Dew" played  over the venue speakers, the audience saw the silhouettes of musicians in Irish caps taking their positions. The band opened with 2013’s "Out of our Heads" and tore through four high-energy songs in less than 10 minutes, initiating waves of both beer toasting and crowd surfing in the audience. This was the start of a loud and brash 28-song 19-year retrospective, during which the energy increased in tandem with the audience's blood alcohol level. About halfway through the set, Casey and Barr invited the audience to call out requests. In addition, a list of cover songs was projected on a screen, and fans standing in the front were invited to through a dart to a dartboard to determine which cover song the band would perform; tonight it fell on AC/DC's "T.N.T." The set closed with a rowdy sing-along of "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," and after an audience chant of "Let's go, Murphys," the band returned and invited audience members to climb on stage for the three encore songs, closing with a cover of Sham 69's "If the Kids Are United." It would be hard to believe that anyone did not have a blast with Dropkick Murphys.

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