The Dropkick Murphys have returned to London's Brixton Academy as part of the "Celtic Punk Invasion Tour" and boy, was this a gig to remember, and as probably the only sober person in the venue, I remember this well!
Joining The Dropkick Murphys were 2 terrific bands, Blood Or Whiskey and The Mahones. Unfortunately I missed the majority of Blood Or Whiskey, but the few songs I did catch at the end of their set made it clear they were on the perfect tour for them! They were like the first shot that prepares you for the night ahead.
Next on the bill was the Mahones. These guys were like the next 4 or 5 drinks, by which point you are quite merry and the party is in full swing. I must confess I have not listened to The Mahones before but after a tremendous set they have become a regular on my Spotify playlist. The first thing I noticed was the Accordion player/vocalist Katie "Kaboom" McConnell, not just because there was a drop dead sexy lass on stage, but how animated she was with that Accordion. I have heard other Celtic punk bands who use this instrument, but never in my days witnessed anyone rocking out the way Ms. "Kaboom" was.
Check out the video for "The Boys Are Back" here
Lead vocalist/guitarist Finny McConnell also did an amazing job of getting the fans riled up for the Dropkick Murphys and encouraging plenty of audience participation. Oi, oi, oi was the war cry bye the end of a exceptional performance. They also demonstrate perfectly why anyone going to a gig should make every effort to catch at least some of the support acts now and again as you may discover a new favourite.
Next on the bill it's time for what we've all been waiting for, the Dropkick Murphys! As standard the fans are chanting "Dropkick Murphys" over and over in anticipation for the performance ahead. The analogy here is the Dropkick Murphys are the equivalent to your 10th or 11th drink, mixed in with plenty of shots, that stage where you can remember things but perhaps the night is getting a bit hazy, inhibitions are reduced and and the party is jumping. The set starts with a classic Irish folk song playing over the PA before the Murphys take to the stage and kick straight in with "Out Of Our Hands" and, as you would expect, the crowd are ready to party, Irish punk style.
Up next was a huge fan favourite "Citizen C.I.A.". Up near the front the audience raise up the Irish flag right in the middle of a pit that only bands like the Dropkick Murphys can encourage from their fans. The energy continues with other great tunes before the Murphys give the fans a real treat, a cover of "The Guns Of Brixton" by the Clash. By this point pretty much everyone is hammered and in full party mode. I then find myself with an arm over my shoulder being drawn into a row of fans shoulder to shoulder jigging along in unison as soon as "In The Streets Of Boston" and "As One" ring out loud and proud. I'm not even in the thick of it but no matter where you are in the venue, folks are dancing and the beer is flowing!
The Dropkick Murphys treat us even further with a cover of AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" which of course will only go down one way, exceptionally well! Along with other Murphys favourites, we are also given further covers of "Alcohol" by Gangreen and "Divide And Conquer" by Runnin' Riot. 23 epic tunes later and the Murphys leave the stage, the whole of Brixton Academies adrenaline is running high and there's no way the fans will let them go without more and the recognisable chant of "Dropkick Murphys" thunders throughout the venue. Of course the Murphys won't leave the us hanging like that and we get a tune that I've been holding out for - "The Boys Are Back". An exceptionally drunk audience find their second wind for this and the rest of the encore which ends with yet another cover, this time it's the epic "If The Kids Are United" by Sham 69.
An almost perfect gig, the only thing I was disappointed by is the fact that I didn't hear either of my 2 favourite songs, "Boys On The Dock" or "The Spicy McHaggis Jig" but alas we can't have everything we want in life and the "Celtic Punk Invasion" tour was one for the books - not just a tour but a celebration of everything Irish. A truly amazing, booze-fueled show. I still want more, despite being sinfully sober the whole time.