The last week of February might be a little early to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, but the Dropkick Murphys felt no need to wait to get the festivities started at EXPRESS LIVE! indoors on Wednesday.
The Boston band brought a loud and energetic show to Columbus that most people would not expect when they hear the word “Celtic” used to describe a band. The group certainly lives up to their “punk rock” description as well.
Blood or Whiskey from Dublin, Ireland was the first opener for the show, and it was a good preview to the main act with similar instruments and style. Unfortunately, something seemed off with the sound production and all of the instruments blended together in a way that was far from pleasant for its louder songs. The band still got the crowd pumped for the main act with a few mosh pits and several people raising beers and singing along.
Next was The Interrupters, a band from Los Angeles that maintained the upbeat energy of the show. Their sound did not feel as hardcore as Blood or Whiskey or the Dropkick Murphys, but they were just as loud. It was only the band’s second show on its tour with the headliner, but the band members already seemed at home with the crowd.
These two openers made for a long wait for the Dropkick Murphys, but it was worth it once the suspenseful start of “The Lonesome Boatman” filled the venue. This immediately moved into “Rebels with a Cause” and “The State of Massachusetts,” making for a fast-paced start to the show. This, combined with the bright stage lights and the loud music, created an incredible energy. The mosh pits of Blood or Whiskey could not compare to what the Dropkick Murphys inspired.
Despite the loud volume of the show, the instruments sounded great together. The band had a large variety that included a piccolo, banjo, accordion and bagpipes in addition the usual guitar, bass and drums. That said, as a person who appreciates a good set of bagpipes, it was pretty upsetting that the only time they could be heard was during a solo, even though the instrument was present in almost every song.
While the instruments were great, the vocals from lead singer Al Barr and bassist Ken Casey had to be the best part of the show. They gave each song an anthem quality that made it hard to keep from singing along. Barr’s high energy had him running around the stage and interacting with the audience, and he led the band in a genuine passion that anyone in the crowd could feel.
The show ended with an encore including “The Boys are Back,” the iconic “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” and “Until the Next Time.” The band invited about 20 people from the audience onto the stage for the last song to sing along. It was a fitting end to a show where everyone in the room felt like family, and it almost made me forget how upset I was when Casey gave a shout out to the Patriots’ Superbowl win (almost).