Review by Angela Blasi / Pictures by James Padden
On March 11, 2011, I got the chance to celebrate the culmination of all things punk rock, Irish and drunken Dropkick Murphys fanatics at Roseland Ballroom. As winter slowly loses its grasp on the East Coast, St. Patrick’s Day come and gone, plenty of college kids home for spring break, the timing of this show in addition to the anticipation of seeing a band known for its live performance sets me up for one hell of a night. Here’s my story.
The only time I had ever been able to see Dropkick Murphys live was way back in my high school days, when they did an in-store signing and acoustic performance at the Menlo Park Mall for their album “Sing Loud, Sing Proud.” That being said, this upcoming performance, a real live show at Roseland Ballroom, was years in the making for me. I am pleased to tell you that the band stood and delivered flawlessly.
Fade to black, the ceiling is flickering with lights and the room is flooded with music, inching its way to climax and take the audiences eager ears along for the ride, all focused on that one moment. Cue the simple click of two drumsticks over a snare drum only to explode into cheers that came from every side of the room like fireworks. The evening’s set was led by single guitar riff and screams of title track “Hang ‘Em High” off their latest endeavor Going Out In Style. Dropkick Murphy’s did not disappoint, moving into fan favorites like “Bar Room Hero” and “The Gang’s All Here” early in the set. Appreciative and charismatic, I could tell the group was having a fantastic time on stage performing for their fans. Watching and hearing the different elements of sound from instruments like the banjo and violin was a great experience. The stage was full of musicians at all times, creating this rich, full sound while also giving the audience a visual display of the unity, so often embedded in Dropkick’s music. In addition, I have to admit, the sound quality was excellent. Not just from the in-house monitors (they do have a sound guy for these things) but the vocals were that perfect blend of grit and melody I had come to expect.
I think my favorite part of the evening was the latter half. Rounding out the show with just the right blend of feel good, swaying with an arm around a stranger, drunken ballad sing-a-longs complete with ladies on stage during “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced” hammering into “Shipping Up to Boston,” where everyone who could got up and stage, followed by my own moshing endeavors in the pit during a personal favorite “Boys on the Docks,” one can easily see why the last part of the show hammered this live performance home.
Moving along with the sea of bodies clad in green and wreaking of beer while chanting “Lets Go Murhpys” for a night, I finally understood the concept of the Dropkick Murphys albums. All the chanting and choral vocals met with the in-your-face punk rock energy on every track, simple as it may be, is not done justice by simply listening alone. Rather, it is the experience of the band on stage as well as being part of that very crowd, feeding off the energy while crying out lyric after lyric as if they were one’s own personal decree. That makes this band great and is how the music was seemingly intended to be shared. Being a casual listener is not enough if you really want to get the full effect of their sound and style. Though I may not have been crazy about their latest album, I am absolutely thrilled with their live show and can’t wait for another opportunity to be a part of the next one.