On March 16 green t-shirts with obnoxious phrases are laid out next to green socks in anticipation of the next day. This is how many celebrate St. Patrick’s Day—with green things. In Boston, celebration comes into full swing as local heroes, the Dropkick Murphys return from the road and hit the stage. Kicking off their hometown liver-lashing festivities is always a cue to the people of the Commonwealth to commence the holiday. Blissfully arm in arm with beers raised high they chant the band name like a sports team. And this year is a big one. This year the Murphys enter their second decade as a band.
New York City Irish punk band The Narrowbacks opened. With banjos rambling and gruff instruction from lead singer, Seamus Keane to “fire it up,” they were a rollicking start to the evening. Tiger Army (former Hellcat Records alumni with the Murphys) followed up the evening. Lead singer Nick 13 and crew haven’t had a new album or lengthy tour for many years, instead focusing on a solo country career to great accolades. His 50s crooning and rockabilly aesthetics were missed in the punk scene. There was a resounding verbalization of, “Damn! I’m finally seeing Tiger Army!” With heavy reverb and bass-slapping rockabilly vibes to fill the room, it was a distant sound that much of the crowd wasn’t picking up on. Undeterred, Nick said, “I see a lot of Tiger Army fans … and I see a bunch of people thinking, ‘Who the fuck are these guys?’” They won over many new fans with stage presence alone however. Nick snaps forward at the mic like a cobra with each lyric, while Djordje Stijepovic saddled and spun his upright bass like a dance partner. They may not have grabbed everyone in the crowd, but with a forthcoming new album, they’ll be back.
As the Murphys took hold of their blitzed audience, a large white cloth held projections of their 20-year career—a video sharing the genesis of the Quincy brawlers turned Red Sox parade fixtures. These days, the band is nearly synonymous with The Departed due to their rollicking soundtrack title, “Shipping Up To Boston” and they help Boston Mayor Marty Walsh ignite political events. Their songs ring loud and proud with the lifelong fans as well as newcomers. Smashing into St. Patrick’s Day a day early, it’s easy to understand the lore of the Murphys—their heartfelt shows are explosive.
Even with guitarist James Lynch out for the night, the crew managed to supply a circle-pit fueled performance. Ken Casey led the band through their deep catalog as well as the Clash’s “Career Opportunities.” As any good night with the Murphys, it wraps up with adoring fans licking lacerations and coddling tender livers. It’s a workout on the dance floor—and it’s the finest way to embrace your Irish side.