Bostonians can count on several happenings in March. First is a giant St. Patrick’s Day Parade, second is pubs filled with green attired revelers, and lastly is a week worth of sold-out shows by the city’s very own Dropkick Murphys. The Dropkick gang has always worn their heart on their sleeve when it comes to their home city. Ken Casey (lead singer and bassist) says “We’ve always flown a flag for the city no matter where we are in the world.” With the House of Blues on Lansdowne Street being filled with long- time fans, friends, relatives, and even grandma – these local heroes gave the performances of their lifetimes.
This writer caught the first two shows of a six-show stand and met people who flew in from Utah, California, Oregon and even England to catch a part of Boston’s living history. On both nights UK band Skinny Lister and Tennessee band Lucero opened the shows. On March 13th opening with ‘The Boys are Back’ got the show to a rollicking, sing-along start that persisted for the next couple of hours. ‘Never Forget’ and “Get Up” were next which the band blasted through at a ferocious pace where things didn’t mellow out until 20 songs later with ‘Rose Tattoo’ off of their latest album Signed and Sealed in Blood. Song 22 was the classic anthem ‘I’m Shipping Out to Boston’. They then performed a score of classic rock songs paying homage to the band’s inspiration. ‘Takin’ Care of Business’ by the Bachman – Turner Overdrive, ‘We’re an American Band’ by the Grand Funk Railroad was next with the stage backdrop changing to a red, white and blue – stars and stripes with the band’s name on it. It was a powerful moment during the Dropkick’s set. The backdrop then changed to black with a familiar Ramones logo except of course sporting the Dropkick Murphys name on it. ‘Hey Ho Let’s Go’ gave a nod to another legendary East Coast band. The last classic rock tune they delivered was a blistering version of AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’. After which ‘Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced’, ‘Skinhead on the MBTA’, and ‘Boys on the Docks’ finished the setlist – ending with a stage full of fans
On March 14th this writer was back and curious to see how much (if at all) the Dropkick Murphys would change their set list from one night to the next. It is always fun when a rock band will play the same songs, which often come across as rehearsed and not genuine. Well, never worry because the boys from Boston are not anything but a genuine, real rock band! Out of the 27 song set on both nights only three songs were repeated on the second evening’s setlist. ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston’, ‘Skinhead on the MBTA’ and ‘Rose Tattoo’ were the only songs that made it onto both night’s performances.
‘Hang Em High’ opened the show – which was overall a slightly better show than then the previous night. That said, the opening night was phenomenal. The better show was partially because of the Friday – night crowd as opposed to a Thursday night crowd. Also some gems such as ‘Sunshine Highway’,’Citizen C.I.A.’, ‘Worker’s Song’ dotted the set list of heavy – hitters dished out on Friday night. Never leaving out who inspired DKM the most and made them who they are today, they chose ‘Baba O’ Reilly’ by The Who to play toward the end of the night. Al Barr who sings lead on most of the Dropkick’s songs was a competent stand-in for Roger Daughtry. It was a great moment indeed to have the entire audience sing ‘Teenage Wasteland’ in unison! They closed the night with ‘Citizen C.I. A’ – once again inviting members of the audience up on stage.
In closing, this writer was left amazed by the city’s love for this band. They are true heroes – not only performance-wise but symbols of the tenacious Irish citizens of Boston. After seeing Dropkick Murphys last year at the Club Nokia in Los Angeles. Earlier that day was the horrific Boston Marathon bombing. I could see the anger and hurt and pride in their eyes when they opened with ‘For Boston’. The entire concert venue could feel the intensity of the band – the feeling of community, betrayal, anger and pride were palpable. The Dropkicks were proactive and immediately offered t-shirts for sale to help victims of the bombings. Three – hundred thousand dollars was eventually raised by the band to help the cause. Besides the enjoyment of roaring Irish accented punk rock anthems, this band gives us – they also give back to their community in spades. For this, the Dropkick Murphys are true heroes and iconic to the city of Boston.
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