Dropkick Murphys Do Their Best to Rally a Lethargic Crowd

Dropkick Murphys
House of Blues
February 29, 2016

The Dropkick Murphys are exhausting.

Boston's own Celtic punk rockers have been known to flail around onstage for hours, screaming their lungs out and scraping blisters off their fingertips as they madly strum their guitars. But if past performances are any indication, the fans are the real kicker.

At Monday night's sold-out performance, the crowd's excitement was palpable. In the same way a strong breeze along the coastline warns of an approaching hurricane, one could feel a storm brewing at House of Blues as fans waited for the Dropkick Murphys to appear onstage.

And then the storm hit.

The lights dimmed and the sound of a flute echoed through the venue. A short film chronicling the group's 20-year history played above the stage, showcasing the band through the years. It included outdated haircuts, footage of rehearsals in crammed hotel rooms and video of concerts nearly two decades old.

Other highlights included scenes from the 2007 World Series and the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, clips of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio from The Departed, and clips of the band playing with the legendary Bruce Springsteen. (Spoiler alert: These guys really like their hometown, and their fans do too.)

It crossed my mind that the people seen moshing onscreen are likely parents by now, many of them with mortgages, college funds for their kids and, at the very least, responsibilities in the morning. Which might explain why the hurricane that had been looming in the distance, the one that felt like a Category 5 at the beginning of the night, turned out to be merely a tropical storm by the time it made landfall.

But this was in no way a reflection of the band's performance. The Dropkick Murphys brought their A game, delivering plenty of energetic fan favorites, plus a cover of the Clash's "Career Opportunities" - the first song they ever learned - and "Barroom Hero," the first song they ever wrote.

For whatever reason, the crowd just wasn't as energetic as anticipated. Then again, they may already have been three sheets to the wind by the time the headliners showed up.

Dropkick Murphys shows are known for their drunken debauchery, liveliness and camaraderie. They are exciting in the same way a roller coaster is - you buy a ticket for the thrill, and even though you know you're going to walk away from the ordeal in one piece, there's a sense of danger. It's as if, at any moment, depending on the twists and turns taken by the band, you could get whiplash. But one thing is certain: You're guaranteed a wild and memorable ride.

Monday night wasn't quite all that, since so much of a show's atmosphere is decided by the crowd. But to the Dropkick Murphys' credit, they haven't lost a step in the past 20 years.

And even at a tame Dropkick Murphys performance, a guy in a wheelchair was spotted crowd-surfing. So it's all relative, really.

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