Being on the cusp of becoming a quarter of a century old and three years and counting since they released an LP; people would naturally question if the Boston boys would be coming back. However with a new single “Smash Shit Up” and confirmation of a new LP in September; the Dropkick Murphy’s unique brand of Celtic punk will continue into the 2020s. XS Noize caught up with the Dropkick Murphy’s on their last leg of their European tour before they embarked on their American tour. One thing is undeniable: a lot of people still want to see Dropkick Murphy’s; space was tight in the ten thousand plus capacity Alexandra Palace.
Alexandra Palace was spoilt with the choice of support band Cock Sparrer. This East End of London band punk band fronted by Colin McFaull on the cusp of entering their fifth decade brought melancholy feelings not just to the actively participating fans; but also to the Dropkick Murphy’s who were reunited with Cock Sparrer for the first time in twenty years.
Following an intro of “Foggy Dew” the Dropkick Murphy’s launched straight into “The Lonesome Boatman”, the first of four songs they played from their current 2017 released 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory LP. Whether it was owing to Cock Sparrer’s opening efforts; Alexandra Palace needed no time to warm up. “The Lonesome Boatman” performance alone proved their later material is as respected as their material from Signed and Sealed in Blood. When “The Boys are Back” followed” the first third of the Palace at the front of the stage was no man’s land for those not wishing to mosh pit or attempt failed coups of crowd surfing. Ken Casey would thank the “savages” for maintaining momentum.
As the Dropkick Murphy’s continued playing their set; they induced what seemed to be a never-ending endorphin release of hyperactive energy. What made this energy so special and fascinating to witness was that there was so much more to it than brute force. The vocal passion and the way the occasional bagpipes were able to come to the centrefold added a poignancy to the lyrics and the foundations to the Dropkick Murphy’s sound.
Despite being in a ten thousand plus capacity venue, the intimacy, connection and humbleness was that of a legendary and unforgettable pub performance. Whether it’s their ongoing support for “working class and union causes” or their continued ties to their hometown of Massachusetts; a sense of honesty and authenticity was felt amongst the thousands at Alexandra Palace. This authenticity was still felt in the new song “Smash Shit Up” with the lyrics: “I wanna be a rebel. I wanna break some bones. Maybe they'll be yours. They might be my own”.
This band undoubtedly has some staples that demanded to be played unconditionally including “Blood”, “First Class Loser”, “Johnny, I hardly knew Ya”, “The State of Massachusetts” and not forgetting “Rose Tattoo” (appropriately after the encore) were all performed; they also played an impressive motley of covers including The Clash’s arrangements of “I Fought the Law” which was as close as possible to seeing The Clash do their own rendition which they originally released in 1977. Brendan Behan’s “The Auld Triangle” and Gerry Cinnamon’s “The Bonny” were also covered with a Dropkick Murphy’s signature Celtic punk makeover.
From getting their first big break opening for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in 1997, the Dropkick Murphy’s have grown to be a band that can draw in five-figure crowds to venues outside their own country and get punk legends like Cock Sparrer to open for them. With a new LP on the way and new single “Smash Shit Up” being well received; it is unlikely that the Dropkick Murphy’s will reach crescendo anytime soon.