The Dropkick Murphys "...come home to roost"

Dropkick Murphys open homestand with rousing show at Avalon
By Christopher Blagg
Saturday, March 13, 2004

The boys have come home to roost.

On the first night of their four-night stand at Avalon, the Dropkick Murphys were met with a heroes' welcome. From the start, the Dropkicks let it be known that they are not an Irish band. They're a proudly and passionately Boston Irish band, name-checking the city at every occasion and in almost every song. Bruins fight highlights flashed on two big screens above the stage, ``Yankees Suck'' chants sprung up between songs and Celtic greenery was the apparel of choice.

The audience was well-lubricated from the start, as Guinness stations replaced the usual Bud Light for the weekend. Energy levels were so high the moshing started before any of the music began.

When the boys did take the stage, the crowd simply ignited. The aggressive combination of two slashing guitars, a piercing bagpipe and Al Barr's ferocious howl raised the testosterone level in the club to astronomic heights. Supercharged tunes such as ``Barroom Hero'' and ``Good Rats'' turned the floor into a violent sea of elbows, beer, sweat and Boston sports paraphernalia.

What makes the Dropkicks stand out from the aggro-punk pack is their message. As opposed to the adolescent sneer of most pop punk bands, these Boston lads raged and roared about solidarity, brotherhood and the courage of the working man. Tunes like ``As One'' and ``Boys On the Docks'' could open union meetings across the country. This is compassionate, thinking man's punk.

As it was a hometown gig, the backstage was standing room only, spilling out onto the already crowded stage. Grannies and aunties could be seen banging gray-haired heads to feedback-drenched arrangements of such traditional Irish tunes as ``The Fields of Athenry'' and ``Finnegan's Wake.'' One particularly frenzied friend or family member couldn't contain himself, sprinting past his band buddies on stage to dive into the outstretched arms of the crowd.

Though many of the spirited three-chord stomps tended to blend into one another, Barr and bassist/vocalist Ken Casey mixed it up just enough, with a joyously rambunctious cover of AC/DC's ``It's A Long Way to the Top'' and sloppy traditional ballads, such as the swaying sing-along of ``The Wild Rover.''

Still, aggression and energy are the staples of the band's show, and the Dropkicks delivered both in spades. Though the occasional, inevitable fight broke out, it was a testament to the band's vision and general goodwill that everyone left the club in good spirits and with a sense of camaraderie - bruised but happy.

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