Dropkick Murphys return to rock House of Blues

A review of the Dropkick Murphys at the House of Blues on March 12, 2009

, Managing Editor

The parade in Southie or the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast may be the first things that come to mind around this time of year, but there is one Boston tradition that is nearly as big, The Dropkick Murphys. Beantown’s favorite local rockers started their& hometown residency (7 shows in 6 days) at the House of Blues on Thursday night and kicked off the St. Patrick’s Day festivities off in grand fashion.&

Taking the stage in their usual epic fashion, with The Chieftains and Sinead O’Connor’s& rendition of “The Foggy Dew”, the band appeared before a stage made to resemble a Catholic church – with an Irish flavor of course. From here the ferocious Celtic punk rock began. Starting off right with fan favorites “Do or Die” and “The State of Massachusetts” sure had the crowd amped up, but the Dropkicks may have been a little too pumped up themselves as the vocals started off rougher than usual. After the lesser-played “Time To Go”, the band’s ode to the Boston Bruins, the Murphys started to get into a groove with “Sunshine Highway”. The punk was then toned down and the Irish turned up on a great rendition of “The Fields of Athenry” accompanied by violin and cello.&

For the most part there really weren’t many surprises in the set, which is sort of the point for a Dropkick’s show. They know how to appease their many diehard fans with set staples such as “Warriors Code”, “Barroom Hero”, “Boys On The Dock”, and “The Dirty Glass”, on which Liza Graves of opener Civet joined them, trading verses with Ken Casey and Al Barr. Other usual sights and sounds were Irish step dancers (from Forbes School of Irish Step Dancing in Quincy)& during “Captain Kelly’s Kitchen” and& “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya” , Casey’s bass hanging below his knees, and a whole lot of beer and green t-shirts.

However, a real surprise treat came in the encore when the band covered Bruce Springsteen’s “Badlands”, joined by opener Bryan MacPherson, which they played as if they had been doing it for years. The crowd was really hopping at this point which made it a perfect segue into the infamous “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”, which was set up with a pirate logo appearing behind the band while beer rained down from excited fans on the second floor – it was a Kodak moment.

While “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” may have received the most vibrant response from the crowd, Red Sox-ode “Tessie” saw similar results as did the humorously beautiful “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced”, with the city’s classiest ladies in the crowd joining the band onstage to sing their hearts out. Beauty was also resonant when the Murphys showed their softer side with the acoustic “Forever”, which they dedicated to their families.

In the end the Dropkicks played a jam-packed set to an even more jam-packed crowd. The guys in the band like to make jokes about themselves but it is no joke when it comes to Boston’s love for this group. With themes of the working class and a love for Boston so apparent in their songs the fans can really relate, and with infectious Boston anthems building pride it’s no wonder this St. Patrick’s celebration keeps getting bigger and bigger. If you weren’t able to be part of any of these shows you should mark it on your calendar for next year right now. To hold you over, look for the live CD/DVD of the St. Patrick’s Day weekend sometime in the near future.

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