You know, there’s some bands that you know will never disappoint; and after years of seeing the Dropkick Murphys do what they do best, they’ve signed themselves solidly on that list. Hitting up the UK to promote their recently released ‘Signed and Sealed in Blood’, the band rolled into town with two supports in tow, and an influx of adoring fans.
Opening the evening were Cornwall’s folk lot Crowns. Cheery and charming, their catchy brand of folk music proved to win over the growing audience. Though some moments sounded reminiscent of the Pogues or Frank Turner vocally, these proved miniscule distractions as the likes of their bouncy ‘Full Swing’ lured everyone in. Ticking the traditionalist side of the Murphys’ hybrid components, the band proved a fantastic way to begin the evening.
Moving onto their punk side, Wyoming’s Teenage Bottlerocket promised aggressive fun and unbridled energy, but for whatever reason the message didn’t seem to reach the audience. Fleeting moments seemed to win the crowd over, as they demanded a pogo-party for a 30 second track. Though, more often than not we heard gruff voices respond with hostility:
“Fuck yeah, alcohol!” exclaimed Kody.
“Then why the fuck are you drinking water?” one man angrily shouted.
The band themselves were fine, and they had energy in bounds, but the problem is no one seemed to care. Having said that, you can’t really go wrong with a Ramones cover, as the band learned with their rendition of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, so for that duration at least, things seemed to be looking up.
Folk – tick. Punk – tick. Now all that’s left is the explosive combination of the two, and Boston’s finest export had no qualms in delivering. “The boys are back and they’re looking for trouble,” echoed the room as the band lurched into their new album’s opener – but, as the audience leapt into life, it seemed trouble was the last thing they were going to get. Well, that was until they started complimenting Celtic football club. That was a real crowd splitter…
Here we’ll say it: This was not as good as their show in the same venue last year, but we know exactly why. The record had only been out a week when this took place, so though the likes of ‘Rose Tattoo’ and the opener were embedded in our memory, other tracks didn’t have that familiarity to provoke the stronger reactions. This, however, is just a bump in the road since next time people are going to lose their shit over the new tracks.
The Murphys are a force live, from Al Barr’s Irish jig-jog, and to each member’s individual quirk as they play. The band hit it out of the ballpark with the likes of ‘Going Out In Style’, ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya’ and ‘I’m Shipping Up To Boston’, while ‘Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced’ found itself replaced this time round by their new pub-shanty ‘End Of The Night’, a warm fuzzy farewell after a few pints and good company.
No Dropkick show would be complete without demolishing the stage with half the audience, and accordingly the band disappeared into a Murphys version of ‘Where’s Wally?’. Wrapping up with a blazing rendition of AC/DC’s ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ and ‘Citizen C.I.A.’, they proved that there’s a reason their name is sealed on the list of quality bands, and we’re avoiding a pun about it being signed and sealed in blood. What a way to kick of the 2013 gig calendar – absolutely brilliant.