If there ever was a gig that reminded you of the time and the place a gig was played, this Flogging Molly gig was one of them. Despite the record-breaking scorching summer heatwave, gig goers crammed themselves into the Forum, generating heat no air-conditioning unit could be expected to contain.
Whilst collective sweat poured like a deluge, communal harmony was ignited from the outset thanks to the opening support act Russkaja. The Austrian septet, who define their sound as “Russian Turbo Polka Metal”, not only got people to sing and dance, but they also got the Forum to form a mosh circle from the outset. Main support Ferocious Dog, who formed the same year the Levellers did in 1988, continued to elevate the momentum Russkaja created whilst showing solidarity with the RMT union by displaying their flag, which earned the audience’s respect.
Whilst it wasn’t a twenty-five-year band celebration, the built-up excitement and enthusiasm in a venue ever expanding in the heat for the Irish-American Celtic punk band Flogging Molly alone was a fantastic atmosphere to witness. The sight of Dave King in a thick wool blazer and his band members, including his wife Bridget Regan on tin whistle and fiddle and the Tommy Shelby attired electric guitarist Dennis Casey, got instant 100 per cent crowd participation. Everyone was jumping or moshing as Flogging Molly opened with “Drunken Lullabies”.
“The Hand of John L. Sullivan” followed, which saw King remove his thermal blazer at the midpoint. This strip down was barely noticed by the audience, who were climbing up the adrenaline ladder fuelled with ecstasy. All enjoyed Whilst collective hedonism and emotional hitting poignancy could also be felt. The zenith of emotions was felt as King sang ‘pleasure Fallin’ down to you, sweet ground Where the flowers they bloom Well, it’s there I’ll be found Hurry back to me’ from “The Worst Day Since Yesterday”. The new song, “A Song of Liberty”, from Flogging Molly’s forthcoming seventh LP Anthems, equally captured the zeitgeist.
From poignant lyrics came crowd intuition, who, from dancing and moshing away to “A Song of Liberty”, then sat down in straight lines and collectively imitated rowing as Flogging Molly began to play “Float”. Moshing immediately resumed as Flogging Molly played the energy-demanding “Tobacco Island”. The only time the audience allowed itself to catch its breath was when Russkaja returned to the stage to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Flogging Molly bassist Nathen Maxwell.
Following a brief encore, Flogging Molly played out with “Salty Dog”. Being brilliantly upbeat, “Salty Dog” got a temporarily stoic yet screaming audience to mosh again at the same capacity as they had been throughout the set. The additional beauty of “Salty Dog” is the musical similarity this song shares with the Levellers’ “The RIverflow”.
Flogging Molly knows how to pick their friends well and get them to support them live. More impressively, the seven-piece managed to get a packed audience to give everything of itself despite the heatwave and uncertainty and leave them overjoyed with a performance they will never forget. With the positive reception to their new material live, this was more than a retrospective. The adventures of Flogging Molly are not over.