Better Than: Watching The Departed on loop while shooting Jameson in your apartment on St. Patrick’s Day.
It might as well have been at a sporting event. Chants of “let’s go Murphys [clap clap clap clap clap]” and waves of amped attendees in black and gold jerseys egging each other on and fighting to get closer to the stage were all just a natural part of the experience.
But this was not a sporting event. Instead of balls, bats, or hoops, there were newsboy caps, a bagpipe player wearing a kilt, and green. Lots of green. At least one item of clothing on 80% of the audience members had been colored a different shade of it because last night might as well have been St. Patrick’s Day. It was five days too early, sure. But it was a Dropkick Murphys show. Close enough.
Throughout the show, the audience’s interactions with one another and the band felt like one gigantic, over-crowded family reunion with mosh pit bumps quickly being transformed into one-armed hugs. Like any family reunion, the Dropkick Murphys were convening their extended relatives, us, in time for a very sacred holiday celebration that mandated beer stained air, charismatic sing-a-longs, and, as expected, matching uniforms of green.
Naturally, their sound kept the energy levels high and enthusiasm piqued, which is what has motivated fans every year to celebrate their Irish heritage, both authentic and honorary, with the Murphys. From the opening bars of “The Boys Are Back” all the way to the blaring end of a cover of AC/DC’s “T.N.T.,” the Murphys were a force of nature with their deceitfully jovial Celtic sounds that mingle with aggressive punk.
The band focused heavily on performing material from their newest album Signed and Sealed in Blood, with rousing and popular live takes on songs like “Rose Tattoo” and “Jimmy Collins’ Wake.” The latter of the two was introduced with a simple question of whether or not this New York City audience enjoys Boston baseball. They were lucky the booing audience didn’t exit immediately, but members of your family are allowed to make mistakes.
Classic tracks did find their way onto the setlist because a Murphys show would be incomplete without them. Of all the moments throughout a night already filled with small, charming scenes of friendship and community, the most endearingly beautiful took place during a very special performance of the first song the band had written, “Barroom Hero,” with a band of 13-year-old boys who had given their own band the same name. Sharing the stage with Barroom Heroes, who had performed a precocious set earlier in the evening, and pulling fans on stage for the final three songs of the encore really helped bring the communal energy to life. The Murphys have cultivated an image as the old friends who can make any location feel like a quaint pub. As they sang “Boys on the Docks” towards the show’s end, the lyrics felt especially poignant. Instead of the line “together we are what we can’t be alone” feeling like a oft-repeated lyric they’ve sung thousands of times, it felt like a manifesto declaring what it means to be a part of this particular brood of Irish-American Bostonians. Even if we’re in New York.
Critical Bias: I went to Boston once. It was nice.
Overheard #1: “USA! USA!” – chanted by the people I’m nearly positive were also holding up the Irish flag.
Overheard #2: “I’m too old for this shit.” – older man who was not down to join the kids in the pit (see below).
Random Notebook Dump: Actually the most mesmerizing pit I’ve seen from a balcony. It was like rollicking green waves of water crashing against the Cliffs of Moher — or maybe just a bunch of fun-loving drunk fans beating the crap out of each other.
Dropkick Murphys will be performing a second show at Terminal 5 again tonight, March 13.