Dropkicks and Bosstones team up to rock McCoy

A review of the Dropkick Murphys and Mighty Mighty Bosstones at McCoy Stadium on July 12, 2008

, Editor-in-Chief

When the Dropkick Murphys and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones announced a summer co-headliner, it was music to the ears of Boston rock fans. Two of Beantown’s preeminent bands over the past two decades: one at their peak, the other making a triumphant return. Yes, it was a recipe for a great show and on Saturday night at McCoy stadium in Pawtucket, it was a grand slam that delivered on all decimals before a crowd of over 10,000 faithful fans.&

In the headlining slot, the Dropkick Murphys delivered an intense two-hour set that hit all points of their catalog. Following a video introduction by Red Sox broadcasters Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy and the band’s usual "Foggy Dew" intro, the band hit the stage and ran through "Famous For Nothing" (surprisingly and disappointingly opting out of "For Boston", which they delivered a few nights earlier in Lowell with the Bunker Hill Pipe Band). From there, the band continued with more songs from their 2007 release The Meanest Of Times, including "The State Of Massachusetts",& "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya", and "(F)lannigan’s Ball".&

Bassist/Vocalist and founding member Ken Casey informed the crowd that the band was recording a live album of the band’s three New England shows, "So you better sing in tune." The band’s set was filled with energy and covered all facets of the band’s catalog. There was the blue-collar anthem "Worker’s Song", the traditional Irish favorite "Black Velvet Band", old school favorite "Barroom Hero", and the summertime tune "Sunshine Highway".&

Earlier in the night, Mighty Mighty Bosstines frontman Dicky Barrett joked that the Dropkick Murphys must be on steroids with the way they’ve been rocking their live shows. He might be right. Frontman Al Barr charged the stage like a caged animal and worked the crowd into frenzy. Even newbie Jeff DaRosa seems more comfortable alongside his new bandmates drummer Matt Kelly, guitarist James Lynch, bagpiper Scruffy Wallace, guitarist Tim Brennan, Casey, and Barr.&

Just as they did at the St. Patrick’s Day shows in Lowell earlier this year, girls from the Quincy based Forbes School of Irish Step Dancing shared the spotlight during& "Johnny, I Hardly Knew You" and later during "Captain Kelly’s Kitchen". Singer Lisa Graves from openers Civet joined the band on stage for a solid rendition of "Dirty Glass" and of course the band was in a baseball park, so a good ole sing-along of "Tessie" (complete with a brand new custom piano) provided a mid set highlight.&

"Forever", one of the band’s lone true ballads, was met with a sea of lighters but it was the emotional dedications of "Fields of Athenry" to a recently deceased Marine from Rhode Island and "Your Spirit’s Alive" to the band’s late friend Greg "Chickenman" Riley that provided two of the more emotional performances of the night.&

The females in attendance crowded the stage during the Dropkick Murphys’ main set closer of "Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced", a hysterical tune delivered by Casey. The band’s encore brought the night’s best highlight. Joined by the full Bosstones lineup, the two bands rocked through a truly special rendition of Boston’s new anthem "Shipping Up To Boston". If you missed the show, this should be reason enough to pick up the live album/dvd. The Bosstones exited, but the Murphys’ carried on and closed out the show with their own takes on two more beantown classics: "Skinhead on the MBTA" (the band’s take on "Charlie on the MBTA") and The Standels’ "Dirty Water".

Back for their first hometown shows since reuniting for their tenth "Hometown Throwdown", the Mighty Mighty Bosstones delivered a stellar 75-minute set. The band hit the stage in full plaid (with the exception of Barrett who opted for a green sport jacket with plaid pants) and opened with "Kinder Words". Barrett worked the crowd well and quickly invited one young boy on stage during the band’s second song, "Drunks and Children". Though predominantly a Dropkick Murphys crowd, the band won the crowd over early with two of their biggest hits, "Rascal King" and "Where’d You Go?", which were played back-to-back early on.

With lots of family in friends in attendance, Barrett reminisced about going to Pawsox game with his father and later asked the crowd to join in singing Happy Birthday to his mother, who he brought on stage (clad in an MMB shirt), to help celebrate her 70th birthday. He also took time to thank the Dropkick Murphys for inviting them on the road, saying it was "like old times". It was praise later returned by the headliners who sincerely thanked the Bosstones for paving the road for them.

The Bosstones were even tighter on stage than they were back in December, each beaming with emotion and delivering with sonic power. With saxophonist Roman Fleysher opting out of the band’s current touring plans (due to work as a commercial pilot), original member Kevin Linear returned from Germany to rejoin the band. Alongside fellow saxophonist Tim "Johnny Vegas" Burton and trombonist Chris Rhodes, the trio delivered the band’s signature horn section and shined through "Someday I Suppose" and "You Gotta Go". Rhodes added strong vocals during the band’s rendition of The Wailers’ "Simmer Down", which came on the heels of "Hell of Hat", arguably the band’s best tune of the night augmented with a quick solo from guitarist Lawrence Katz. Other highlights included a fierce rendition of "Dr. D" and the band’s new hit, "Don’t Worry Desmond Dekker".

The band’s monster hit, "The Impression That I Get" gave way to a surprising set closer, "The Impossible Dream". Barrett dedicated the song to Carl Yastrzemski and the 1967 Red Sox, which seemed to make sense for the venue. But when a Barack Obama banner with the word "Dream" printed underneath the Democratic Presidential nominee’s face was dropped over the band’s logo banner, the real reason was brought to fruition. A stage problem prevented the full banner from being exposed but it was enough to be met with mixed reaction from the crowd. It was a surprising statement from the band, especially considering the band has yet to perform the politically charged "This List", which is one of the three new songs they recorded last fall for Medium Rare.

Many faithful fans purchased a "season pass" for all three shows and both bands made conscious efforts to mix things during all three shows, allowing for exclusive highlights at each. Overall, the performances progressed figuratively and almost literally from the levels of Single A to Double A, and finally to Triple A. I’m not sure if the future leads to Fenway, but here’s hoping this could be become a new summer throwdown of sorts for Boston’s best.&

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