The Dropkick Murphys, leaders in the world of Celtic punk, brought their oxymoronic genre virtual for St. Patrick’s Day, and they delivered a high-energy, emotional rollercoaster of a concert. Peppered with well-chosen covers and original hits, the band did not disappoint throughout the 26-track long set. From the beginning, the Dropkick Murphys boasted their distinct sound and stuck with it.
The band kicked off the night with a cover of the Furey’s “The Lonesome Boatman.” The song began with a hard kick drum, joined by chugging, meaty electric guitars and bass. In the chorus, the electric banjo and the bagpipes were at the forefront. On top of all the instruments was a mix of screaming and singing in unison between the different band members. Each member of the band stood together in a circle and faced each other on a large stage. In the backdrop, there was a massive digital screen surrounding them, featuring a display of lights and graphics that changed throughout the night. For the first song, the background was a realistic depiction of large stormy waves on the Irish sea, which perfectly fit the theme of the tune. The beat switched back and forth between an upbeat rock sound and a traditional Irish jig, which accurately set the tone for the rest of the concert.
“Middle Finger” was a rebellious song from their newest album from 2021, Turn Up That Dial. Still punk sounding, Matt Kelly rocked a hard shuffle on his 14-piece drum kit. Banging frequently on, the toms kept the song’s low register percussion consistent, which complemented the brighter sounding bagpipes and accordion. Lead singers Al Barr and Ken Casey shouted the line, “I could never keep that middle finger down,” as if they held grudges against the entire world.
After a well-executed cover of Pete St. John’s “The Fields of Athenry,” the Dropkick Murphys continued with one of the most entertaining songs of the night, “Surrender.” It was a refreshing throwback from their 2007 album, The Meanest of Times. Strong, heavy guitars followed a fast-paced beat, complete with a wild and intense drum solo. Despite the Celtic influence, there was no mistaking this tune for anything but punk rock.
The next track, a cover of The Almanac Singers’ “Which Side Are You On?,” began with urgency. Alongside the hard rock beat, Al Barr screamed deafeningly into the microphone, which spat out a zombielike distortion. Quickly, the song shifted into what felt like a rock poem while the background screen turned to a dark, ominous red. To fit the grisly mood, guitarists James Lynch and Tim Brennan danced along harmonic minor riffs on their echoing electric guitars.
Another highlight from the performance was “God Willing.” With a 1-4-5 chord structure more reminiscent of mainstream classic rock, this tune was energetic and fun. Kevin Rheault was thumping on the bass, which pleasantly contrasted the high-pitched bagpipes and clarinet. The blaring guitar completed their distinct Celtic rock sound. In an epic fadeaway, the drums slowed down gradually into silence.
For one of their final songs, the band played their most famous hit, “I’m Shipping Up To Boston.” The bagpipes and electric guitars rattled off that recognizable riff, with perfect fourth harmonies native to Irish folk. All the band members rocked out to the chorus, where Darosa churned out clever licks on the bass. Kelly’s precision on the drum kit was impeccable. For the die-hard Murphys fans out there (and there were a lot in the live chat), hearing the song live was an unforgettable experience and the perfect way to finish off a hectic St. Patrick’s Day concert.
Photo Credit: Boston Lynn Schulz