March 25, 2015 Dropkick Murphys Celtic celebration The Paramount Huntington, NY 3-3-15
In 1996, in the basement of a barbershop in Quincy, Massachusetts, some friends came together simply aiming to have fun and just playing some music. This group of gentlemen combined their passion of traditional Irish music with hardcore Punk and found a sound that they loved in what is called Celtic Punk. In fact, they loved this sound so much they decided to start a band; and thus the Dropkick Murphys were formed. Having some member turnover since its founding, but always stayed true to their original sound, the lineup is led by original member Ken Casey (bass Guitar/lead vocals), including Scruffy Wallace (bagpipes/tin whistle), Matt Kelly (drums/bodhran/vocals), Al Barr (lead vocals), Tim Brennan (guitar/accordion/vocals), Jeff DaRosa (multi-instrumentalist/vocals), and James Lynch (guitar/vocals).
With a beloved sound that defines the band, the Dropkick Murphys have certainly stood the test of time, releasing eight studio albums, three live albums, and have toured continuously for nearly twenty years. Known for lively and energetic shows, the band put forth the same energy in support of the working class/unions and many charitable works. Defined by such strong principles, their very large and adoring fanbase packed The Paramount in Huntington, New York on Tuesday March 3rd to bare witness to the Celtic Punk Invasion Tour. This would mark the band’s second stint at the state-of-the-art venue in less than two years, and solidifying the demand for these New Englanders, it would also be the first of two consecutive shows held at The Paramount.
Originally billed as a three act night, a fourth surprise act by the name of Bryan McPherson was the first to greet fans as they entered The Paramount. McPherson, a Boston native, is no stranger to touring with the Dropkick Murphys, having performed aside them previously in 2013. He is an artist who has been doing what it takes to keep his dream moving, as evidenced in his use of a Kickstarter platform in order to raise funds for a tour vehicle. Armed with nothing more than a microphone, a harmonica, and an acoustic guitar, McPherson garnered the crowd’s attention immediately. With great passion in his voice, he belted out each song that he referred to as his “Folk tunes.” Warmly greeted by Long Islanders, he proved he has the drive to go the distance.
As the fans continued to pour in, Ireland’s own Celtic Punk group, Blood or Whiskey, began their set. Though some band members have changed in Blood or Whiskey’s ten year span, originals Chris O’Meara (drums) and Dugs Mulhooly (vocals/guitar) continue to produce new music independently and tour consistently. Self-described as “The Dubliners meets The Clash,” the band took the stage with an energy that would set the theme for the remainder of the evening. Blood or Whiskey played tracks that spanned their entire career including a Irish gem from 2005 entitled Cashed Out on Culture and their most recent release in 2014, Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil. It was clear that the band had the audience’s full attention, as evidenced by lots of jumping and cheering. Much like McPherson, this tour would not mark the first time Dropkick Murphy fans would be introduced to Blood or Whiskey, and the band did a fine job of keeping the ball rolling with no dips in excitement during the show.
It seems fitting that the next band, The Mahones, were originally formed on St. Patrick’s Day, as they have become one of the big names in Celtic Rock, and in Irish music in general. Steadily on the rise since 1990, the band has continued to grow and evolve over time, but it would be The Mahones tenth album in 2010, entitled The Black Irish, that would net the group the most notoriety, winning the Independent Music Award for Best Punk Album. With the bar set even higher, The Mahones released their eleventh studio album in 2012, titled Angels & Devils, followed by Hunger & The Fight in 2014 to fans praise. While the ensemble has changed over time, lead singer Finny McConnell continues to be the backbone of this tremendous band, being joined by Dom “The Bomb” Whelan (drums/vocals), Sean Winter (multi-instrumentalist/vocals), Michael O’Grady (tin whistle), Jon Kane (mandolin/vocals), and Katie “Kaboom” McConnell (accordion/vocals). Coming out in inspiring fashion, the band wowed the crowd with “A Great Night on the Lash” before introducing themselves.
Continuing on with hit song “Paint the Town Red,” which can be heard during the climactic fight seen in the Academy Award winning 2010 film The Fighter, they went into “Shakespeare Road,” Angels & Devils,” and “The Hunger & the Fight,” among others. Closing out their set in style, The Mahones took everyone back to 1994 and performed the track “Drunken Lazy Bastard” off Draggin’ the Days. The crowd was most certainly not dragging at this point and were chanting the band’s praises as they anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Dropkick Murphys.
As the fans were about to reach a boiling point, the Dropkick Murphys took the stage. After a short video introduction, the fun began with “The Boys Are Back” served up as a perfect opener for the Dropkick Murphys who have made a yearly tradition of coming to NY around the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. After a couple of classics such as “Worker’s Song,” “Citizen C.I.A.,” and the “State of Massachusetts,” the band had the fans singing along with Casey’s every lyric. While the Dropkick Murphys could easily fill an entire set with songs of their own fame, they added to the night with covers of various traditional Irish classics including “The Wild Rover,” “Rock Road of Dublin,” Gang Green’s “Alcohol,” and The Bruisers “Iron Chin.” Adding to the already delightful atmosphere, and in true Irish fashion, the band used a dart board to decide which song they would cover.
As the audience became more and more involved, dancing and moshing along with each track, the other acts on the bill could not just sit back either, taking the stage again to join in with the Dropkick Murphys in performing the hit single “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” The overall feeling in The Paramount became one of jubilance and celebration as the band closed up their set with all four acts on stage and the crowd singing along with the chorus. With that said, no good concert these days ends without an encore, and while this show would have satisfied fans without one, the crowd was elated to see The Dropkick Murphys recollect for a few more songs. Starting their encore with “Out of Our Heads,” before getting the crowd going on the infectious sing-a-long “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced,” the ladies in attendance were invited on stage to sing and dance along and encouraged to live in the moment rather than take “selfies.”
Those who have not had a chance to see the Dropkick Murphys live should immediately try and rectify that. They are an energetic bunch of musicians which help their audience forget about the stress of life and captivate them with a spectacular live performance. The band continue to tour with a few shows in Europe as well as in the U.S. between now and August 2015, so grab a drink, put on those dancing shoes, and get ready to party with this one of a kind act.