Dropkick Murphys keep the party going in Lowell

A review of the Dropkick Murphys at the Tsongas Center on March 19, 2011

, Managing Editor

The night after the Dropkick Murphys thrilled fans at the House of Blues by sharing the stage with Bruce Springsteen for their encore, the Boston boys took their show to up Lowell. After the high of performing with The Boss one might think that fans in Lowell would have regretted not attending the Boston show but after a rambunctious set at the Tsongas Center, fans seemed perfectly happy with the Dropkicks stop in the Mill City.

Although there was no Springsteen cameo, another star made an appearance as a pre-show video feed from backstage showed the Murphys wearing t-shirts that read “HollyWard” before “Irish” Micky Ward strolled in with some playful jabs aimed at Ken Casey’s gut. Casey would later bring the fighter out to greet the fans onstage before the Ward-inspired “Warrior’s Code”.

With the release of their first new album since 2007, Going Out In Style, the Murphys were able to mix things up for their St. Patrick’s Day run this year. The backstage feed, which the band used both pre-show and before returning for the encore, replaced their classic introduction to “The Foggy Dew”, while a batch of new songs allowed the band to freshen up their setlist. Roles were reversed on set staple “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced” as well. Usually fans are invited on stage but Casey daringly strolled through the rowdy floor instead, before crowd surfing his way back to the stage. They also included an old favorite, “The Spicy McHaggis Jig”, which has been played sparingly since their former bagpiper Robbie “Spicey McHaggis” Mederios left the band eight years ago.

It was great for the Murphys to have new songs to work with but they may have gone a little overboard playing nine of the fourteen tracks off Going Out In Style. The new tunes were well received but understandably not as stirring as staples like “Captain Kelly’s Kitchen” and “The State of Massachusetts”, considering fans’ unfamiliarity.

The Murphys sound was boosted by the addition of opening band The Parkington Sisters, who provided strings for much of the show. Bagpipers also teamed up with Murphy piper Scruffy Wallace on several numbers including show opener “Hang ‘Em High” and fan-favorite “Tessie”, making sure that the pipes weren’t drowned out by the raging guitars. The band’s powerful sound created an invigorating force, but did cause the vocals to suffer at times. The choruses were constantly strong but Al Barr’s verses were difficult to hear on occasion, although that just comes with the punk rock territory.

Playing shows on consecutive nights at the Dropkick Murphys energy level would be difficult for any band but this Boston Celtic punk-rock crew continues to deliver each and every year for their St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Considering the fact that the band has been on tour in support of their new album as well means the Murphys deserve even extra credit. There are plenty of great bands who flood the Boston area every March, but nothing compares to a night with our Dropkick Murphys.

Setlist
Hang ‘Em High
The Fighting 69th
Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
Gangs All Here
The State of Massachusetts
The Hardest Mile
Tessie
Climbing a Chair to Bed
Curse of a Fallen Soul
Memorial Day
The Warrior’s Code
Barroom Hero
The Guantlet
Going Out In Style
Take ‘Em Down
Sunday Hardcore Matinee
The Dirty Glass
1953
The Spicey McHaggis Jig
The Irish Rover
Homeward Bound
Captain Kelly’s Kitchen
Dirty Water
Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced

Encore
I’m Shipping Up to Boston
Skinhead on the MBTA (with AC/DC’s “TNT”)
Boys on the Docks

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