February 5, 2003
Roseland Ballroom - New York City, NY
The Irish have this reputation about them for drinking a lot, and staying out and partying all night. I'm not really one to make such stereotypical accusations here, even though I am part Irish, but I can say one thing for sure about the Irish, they know how to kick some ass on stage. The Dropkick Murphys are the epitome of just how outstanding the Irish can be onstage. It had been about three years since the Dropkick clan had played their natural rival city of New York, and the crowd sure missed them. Every minute of their show the crowd that had packed into the Roseland Ballroom was pumping their fists, singing along, and chanting "Let's Go Murphys" at every opportune moment.
Scruffy Wallace was the first to take the stage and perform the bands traditional opening, "Cadence to Arms" solo on the bagpipes. Even though it a rather slow, and deep song, it just fueled the fire that was the crowd, because, as soon as he was done, they knew what was next; a big, green, Irish, punk explosion on stage. As soon as Scruffy finished the rest of the band joined him on stage for the real opening of their set, "Do or Die," throwing it back to their early years by coupling the two songs together to open their set. However, even this throwback to the early days couldn't top the love from the crowd for "Barroom Hero." "Face down in the gutter/Won't admit defeat." came from the lips of every punk in the house to start the song. This was the beginning of Al Barr sharing the microphone with as many kids as he could in the first four rows of the crowd, something he would do for the rest of their set. The Murphys rounded out their opening classics with "The Legend of Finn Mac," and then moved on to the closest thing to a title track from their new album, "There's Gonna Be a Blackout Tonight."
It was about this point in the set that the Murphys took a chance to thank everyone for coming out to the show, and thank them for sticking with and supporting them, even though they hadn't played New York City in about three years. The last time they hade been to the Big Apple was to play the now closed Wetlands Preserve, which they had affectionately dubbed "Sweatlands", but for good reason. In the three year span that the Dropkick Murphys hadn't played New York they went from playing the Wetlands which held (maybe) two hundred people to selling out the Roseland, with a capacity of 3,000. After they got that out of the way they continued to blast through their set.
Their next break in their set was to bring out their friend/merch girl Stephanie Doherty to sing "Dirty Glass," a duet of sorts with Murphy Ken Casey. Honestly, this was one of the most entertaining parts of the night, because it broke up the all male lineup of the band, and brought a nice female into the mix, if only for one song. This was only one of the surprises that the band had in store, and they weren't even half way through their set at this point.
The set continued by touching on tracks from all over their career. "The Fields of Athenry," "The Gangs All Here," and "Boys on the Docks," were just a few of the highlights on the next run of tracks. The band did break up the remainder of their set by goading the New York audience with a little disrespect of the New York Rangers, in light of the Boston Bruins, but it was all in good fun. The band also took a few opportunities to send shout outs to some of the more influential bands of the New York scene, such as the great Madball. After the band played their lead single off of Blackout, "Walk Away," they invited every girl in attendance to join them onstage to sing "The Spicy McHaggis Jig." Which they followed up with "Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced" as sung by the band and all the girls. Shortly after, the Murphys took a brief break and then came back on stage to play their encore which included the punk rock sing along song "The Workers Song." They ended the night with the crowd favorite, "Skinhead on the MBTA," during which it seemed like all of Roseland made their way up onstage to sing along.
The Murphys had such a demanding stage presence they captivated the audience every second they were performing. There is just something about Irish punk bands that always seems to go just one step beyond the call of duty and perform one step above their peers. The Dropkick Murphys are a prime example of that whenever and wherever they play live. From the bagpipes opening with "Cadence" to the last chorus of "Skinhead." this is one band that, under no circumstances, should be missed live.