Dropkick Murphys remain loud and proud
Dropkick Murphys don't just play breakneck Celtic-punk music. They proudly and dutifully represent a lifestyle inextricably linked to Boston, and they lay it on as thick as clam chowder and JFK's accent.
With their odes to the city's working class and anthems to our sports teams - to the roaring delight of raucous fans in Red Sox and Celtics jerseys - these guys embody the street-savvy flip side to what the tourism bureau peddles.
At the House of Blues Thursday night, the Murphys triumphantly tore into the first of their six sold-out nights there, including a 1 p.m. matinee today. And it'll go down in history, too, since they were recording the show for a live album and DVD.
This is the ninth year the Quincy-bred band has played its annual St. Patrick's Day shows, which have officially entered the pantheon of other Beantown rites of passage such as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones's Hometown Throwdown at the Middle East.
Taking the stage to the Irish lilt of "The Foggy Dew," by the Chieftains with Sinead O'Connor on vocals, the Murphys got right down to business with the fast and furious "Do or Die," which bled right into "The State of Massachusetts."
No one comes to a Dropkick Murphys concert exclusively for the music, though; they're equally attracted to the communal spirit and sing-alongs on "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," "Time to Go," and "Tessie." You'd be hard-pressed to find a more frenetic and live-wire crowd in this town.
Sometimes the music felt like an afterthought, a perfect soundtrack for the surrounding madness. Beer rained down from cans lobbed at the stage. A whirlpool of mostly young guys shoving off one another like crazed pinballs rippled across the floor. Bodies bobbed up and down like fishing corks in the mosh pit near the front.
The Murphys, of course, are used to this. They thrive on that electricity. When he wasn't melting the mike with his gritty shout, singer Al Barr stalked the stage like a heavyweight champ eager to get back in the ring. Bassist-vocalist Ken Casey, meanwhile, often added a lyrical counterpoint to Barr's aggression, especially on "Loyal to No One." And Liza Graves, frontwoman for Civet, one of the opening bands, joined the Murphys for a duet of "The Dirty Glass."
Dropkick Murphys don't do ballads, but a heartfelt take on "Forever" came pretty close, complete with a string section (and a Zippo lighter held high in the audience).
After a flood of women rushed the stage during "Kiss Me, I'm [Expletive]," the band flamed out in a five-song encore that included a rousing cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Badlands."
As the band said goodbye, this time with the guys in the audience taking over the stage, it seemed like the party was still going strong. The Murphys, no doubt, were just getting warmed up for the rest of the week.
James Reed can be reached at email@example.com.