Dropkick Murphys House of Blues February 28, 2013
If you happened to lose your wooden leg last night at House of Blues, it's pretty understandable. I mean, it was a Dropkick Murphys show, after all. No one expected anything tame.
The crowd was riled up well before the band took the stage, chanting "Let's go Murphys" and throwing shit off the balcony in anticipation. It was a little strange; I felt like I was at a really rowdy baseball game during the chanting, but whatever. At least House of Blues took the beer cans away for this show; the plastic cups that housed the free-flowing Guinness made for far less deadly missiles.
When the Celtic-punk rockers finally took the stage, they kicked off the show at a furious pace, amping up the crowd with "The Boys are Back," a feel-good rock anthem off their new album, Signed and Sealed In Blood.
The track set the scene for the night, announcing to the fans just what, exactly, these troublemakers had in store. Hell, the Murphys has been playing together for more than 16 years, but they have the energy and drive of a band with doe eyes.
We were immediately led into "Burn" and "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya" without pause. As expected, "Johnny" was a thrashing communal effort between the band and crowd; arms flew up and the entire venue was screaming the words along with Al Barr and Ken Casey's vocals.
That's the way it goes when these guys are onstage, though. They don't just perform; they party with the crowd. Front man Al Barr doesn't sing onstage; he's in the crowd the majority of the show, belting out hits like "Jimmy Collins' Wake" and "Captain Kelly's Kitchen."
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The band isn't just backing Barr, either; bassist Ken Casey, drummer Matt Kelly, guitarist James Lynch, mandolin/guitar/accordion master Tim Brennan, bagpiper Josh "Scruffy" Wallace, and Jeff DaRosa -- who plays every damn instrument under the sun -- are on top of the crowd nearly the entire show, joking and singing along. In theory, it seems like that would be difficult with band of that size, but the Dropkick Murphys do it with ease.
These guys really didn't miss a note, launching into their newer, more raucous numbers that stretched the set to nearly two hours. Casey's vocals on "Rose Tattoo" had a thrilling emotion behind them, despite the song's being as driven and energized as the rest of their set. There's something very genuine about that song that sets it apart from the rest of their catalog, even in person.
"I'm Shipping Up to Boston" came the end of their set and was, of course, a fan favorite. Everyone in that damn crowd put on their pirate hat, screaming about lost legs and jumping around en masse. It was a rowdy song to end with, and left the crowd screaming "Let's go Murphys" in that same stinkin' baseball chant, begging for an encore.
The band obliged, of course, and led the crowd into a "Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced" singalong that had girls (and a few dudes) pouring onto the stage. There was an AC/DC cover, too, but I lost the band somewhere in the sea of people onstage.
Those are some brave fools, the Dropkick Murphys. They already have seven people up there; is it safe to add 100 more to the mix?
All in all, the show was everything you'd expect from a Dropkick Murphys show; they don't disappoint. I was a little bummed last night that they didn't play "Flannigan's Ball" or "The State of Massachusetts," but I'm thankful this morning. My stomach couldn't have possibly handled any more whiskey.
Personal Bias: I'm secretly a pirate disguised as a nerdy girl.
The Crowd: A sampling from the entire city of Houston and some dudes who traveled from Boston to see their boys in action.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Can you drink?" "Well, it is after five, so it's fine."
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Random Notebook Dump: Although I appreciate your generosity, dude with the flask in the crowd, I will never, ever drink your firewater again, sir.