Last Night: Dropkick Murphys At House Of Blues

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Dropkick Murphys House of Blues February 28, 2012

Check out photos of last night's sold out Dropkick Murphys show at House of Blues.

Everybody's Irish at a Dropkick Murphys show. Tuesday night at House of Blues, Rocks Off saw more shamrock-festooned gear and Boston Red Sox caps than should normally be allowed this far from Fenway. Still, it's hard to hold a grudge when everyone including the band appears to be having such a good time.

From the moment the band took the stage (to the strains of "The Foggy Dew" by Sinead O'Connor and the Chieftains) to their final encore number ("Citizen C.I.A."), the place was a bouncing sea of flat caps, beer, and Celtic tattoos.

So while it's theoretically possible to be in a shitty mood at a DKM show, you probably have to be hung over. Or a Yankees fan.

The gig last night was all ages, which we only bring up to give props to the dad standing next to us the entire night with his young (8- or 9-year-old) daughter on his shoulders. Having portaged our own 8-year old though the zoo on more than one occasion, Rocks Off knows his pain.

Given our own limited knowledge of Dropkick shows, we expected the area in front of the stage to be more aggro than it was Tuesday. It was a boisterous crowd, to be sure, but far from the beer-flinging melees we've read about. That's what happens when you're America's Fattest City, we guess.

And for a band that's been kicking around for over 15 years, the Murphys show little signs of slowing down. Singer Al Barr stalked the stage, alternating vocals with bassist (and sole remaining founding member) Ken Casey and aiming a few good-natured barbs at the people in the balcony ("No, no...don't stand up") when not engaging in the band's particular brand of call-and-response punk rock.

We wonder how many people at a DKM show consider it "punk." Surely the die-hards at the front of the stage - most of whom looked like they could have been extras in The Departed - understand the band's "oi" roots, but judging by some of the crowd further back in the club, this might have been their introduction to punk. Welcome aboard.

Of course, hardcore goes down a lot easier when acompanied by bagpipes and tin whistles (courtesy of the perpetually kilt-clad James "Scruffy" Wallace) and mandolins and bouzouki (multi-instrumentalist Jeff DaRosa). The Dropkick Murphys didn't invent "Celtic punk," but they've become arguably the most successful practitioners of it. Their coat-of-arms capture this disparate set of influences as well: a shield divided into four fields: accordion, burlesque-y pinup girl, bottle of rotgut and hands folded in prayer.

For this tour, the band is trotting out a four-song acoustic set consisting of several of their more working class anthems (including "Take 'em Down" which you won't be hearing at any Mitt Romney rallies any time soon, and "Boys on the Docks"). The crowd was, surprisingly, respectful and appreciative.

"Surprisingly" because Houston fans are notorious for yakking during acoustic interludes, not because DKM fans are uncouth. Simmer down, chowdah-heads.

Their 26-song set wrapped up in just under 90 minutes and drew from as far back as their debut album Do or Die ("Boys on the Dock, "Skinhead on the MBTA"). Casey at one point asked who in the audience who owned their first slab, then called everyone raising their hands "lying sacks of shit." But like Barr's own needling, it was a good-natured jab. Barr at the beginning of the show even expressed appreciation for the crowd's size: "We sold out in Houston. Finally." For the encore, the band pulled several dozen females on stage to sing along with "KIss Me, I'm Shitfaced." This practice is either one of the great women's liberating moments in punk or a groupie pulling strategy Diamond Dave himself would have applauded.

The Murphys put on a fine show. Fine enough that Rocks Off almost forgave the Sox for beating our beloved Cardinals in the '04 World Series. Almost.

Personal Bias: Rocks Off's Irish ancestors were teetotaling Protestants, but we're nothing if not open minded.

The Crowd: The starting lineup of the 2004 Red Sox, or so they wish.

Overheard In The Crowd: "I'm surprised we haven't seen any 'A-Fraud' shirts yet."

Random Notebook Dump: "So many flat caps: is that my grandpa at the bar?"


The Foggy Dew (The Chieftains with Sinead O'Connor)
Hang 'Em High
Sunday Hardcore Matinee
The Gang's All Here
Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
Deeds Not Words
Climbing A Chair to Bed
Fields of Athenry
Going Out in Style
Do or Die
Never Alone(?)
Cruel Shark (new)

Acoustic set:
The Warrior's Code
Take 'Em Down
Devil's Brigade
Boys on the Docks

I'm Shipping Up to Boston
The Irish Rover
Peg O' My Heart
Homeward Bound
Captain Kelly's Kitchen(?)
State of Massachusetts


Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced
Skinhead on the MBTA
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (AC/DC cover)
Citizen C.I.A.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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