On the way into the city, the rain was relentless. As soon as there was a small reprieve from the pummelling weather, the traffic picked up where the rain left off and it got in a few cheap shots before we pulled into the lot.
Then, the sun came out, shined its rays on the Express Live crowd and the luck of the Irish won out again.
I didn’t grow up with Irish music. That obsession came later.
I grew up with music and one half of the duo that spawned my love for all things music is my dad – who was with me for the epic Irish punk rock n roll party that was the Flogging Molly & Dropkick Murphys show this past Wednesday night.
We’re both looking forward to hearing the songs from Molly and Murphys that have become staples of a Bowers family tradition, #IrishSunday where we crank up Irish trad, celtic folk, rock, and punk with sometimes, the accompaniment of traditional Irish breakfast, libations, and burning peat on the stove.
On this Wednesday evening though, wings and beer at Boston’s seemed appropriate enough and judging by all of the green shirts and Irish fishing caps, we were in good company in this thinking.
With bellies full of fire and Guinness, we make our way to Express Live, where –it must be said– every spot in the XX,000 capacity venue provides a first-class view of the stage so you can always enjoy your favorite bands live (no matter how late you get there).
The co-headlining tour is a treat for fans of both bands, as there are no two better musical bedfellows than Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.
One east coast, one west coast, but no rivalry between them, both play a rowdy, rousing type of celtic punk rock n roll that draws just as much inspiration from The Dubliners and The Pogues as it does from The Clash and Stiff Little Fingers.
Speaking of, lucky folks who got there early (on time) were treated to the sight and sound of the Irish punk rock frontman, Jake Burns of the legendary and influential band, Stiff Little Fingers.
(I have it on very good authority, Mr. Jake Burns was every bit of amazing this evening as he was when he was here with his full band back in 2011 for Shamrock n Roll.)
Exploding onto the stage, Flogging Molly led by frontman Dave King quickly shot off quips about family and exclaimed the prerequisite niceties about Columbus before launching into a monster of a satisfying set that included heaps of hits and fan favorites, too.
People talk about the importance of seeing a band live and yeah, sure, eyes are semi-beneficial to the whole experience, but seeing them play and move around on stage is just a byproduct. Let’s face it, when we talk about seeing a band live, what’s really important is hearing the band live. There’s nothing else like it in the world.
The drum and bass parts boom and burst more. More powerful, the riffs are more electrifying (even when unplugged) and the singing is more immediate, more passionate, and more human. You can hear the joy or the sadness, or both in a really good performance from experiencing a band live.
Hearing the celtic punk staples I know, love, and listen to every #IrishSunday fully fleshed out and more jubilant or boisterous or just more ALIVE than on CD102.5, Spotify, vinyl or any other recorded format was a true treat that beat them all.
Live music soothes, provides release, heals, and sometimes in the right mix, saves.
Rockers “Devil’s Dance Floor” and “Seven Deadly Sins” were faster and sounded more punk.
Ballads “If I Ever Leave This World Alive” and “Float” were more triumphant and tragic.
With the call for us all to “stay hydrated” while raising a Guinness, King was charming in between songs, innocently cursing at a Conan O’Brien doppelganger, heckling the kids in the pit, thanking the crowd for coming out Mid-week and working his way through band member intros and acknowledgements.
Reminding us all that the band is near 20 years old and we’re catching on in age too apparently, the West Coast celtic punk rockers closed their career-spanning set with “the first song [they] ever played together.” The Swagger classic, “Salty Dog.”
As the hot sun took its leave, “The Foggy Dew” from The Chieftains w/Sinead o’Connor came on, night fell upon the venue, and South Boston’s black & golden boys, The Dropkick Murphys rocketed out onto the Express Live stage staying up there just long enough to give the security staff a break in between frontmen Ken Casey’s and Al Barr’s frequent right-up-against-the-bar audience flybys and drop-ins.
This is a band that loves its fans and during the course of the night, they will express their thanks and love several times.
Casey isn’t even supposed to be here due to health reasons, but while it’s hard to keep a good Irish punk down, it’s even harder to stop him from doing what he loves. Thanks anyway, Doc.
The band sounded incredible through and through.
The new songs off “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory,” sound killer, too – particularly, “Blood” which would soon be given a place on playlists next to other DKM classics like opener “State of Massachusetts,” “Rose Tattoo,” or their signature song, and encore set crowd pleaser, “Shipping Up To Boston.” Naturally, the pit is jumping and crowd surfing is in full effect.
Playing harder and louder than their California cohorts, to innocent ears, the Dropkick Murphys may sound darker and angrier, but they’re from Boston, after all.
With later-set songs like “Going Out In Style” and evening closers “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced” and the AC/DC cover “Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap)” this is a band that knows how to have fun their way. And as close to 50+ fans (some drunken, not all) took the stage at the close of the evening, it was clear everyone else in attendance on this Wednesday night, was having a blast too.