Words and Photos by Pat Gilrane
Philadelphia PA Feb 23, 2019 – Celtic rockers Flogging Molly played to a near capacity crowd of rowdy fans at the Fillmore Philly. Also, on the night’s ticket Memphis rockers Lucero.
Flogging Molly has set the standard in the Celtic rock genre for over twenty years, delivering a unique style encompassing both contemporary rock and Irish Trad. Using traditional instruments including the tin whistle, accordion, banjo, and mandolin Flogging Molly has crafted a sound all to themselves. Flogging Molly is Dave King on guitar and vocals, Bridget Regan on whistle, violin and vocals, Dennis Casey on guitar and vocals, Nathan Maxwell on bass and vocals, Matt Hensley on accordion, Spencer Swain on banjo, mando and vocals and last but not least Mike Alonso on drums. Flogging Molly’s latest album Life is Good dropped in 2017 via Vanguard Records.
The backdrop for the night’s show was the absolutely gorgeous Fillmore Philadelphia, a spacious purpose-built venue adorned with crystal chandeliers and a large balcony. The venue has a 2500-person capacity and with its cavernous interior getting around is rather easy, this has become my favorite venue to work and see shows.
As the lights dimmed the Who’s “Baba O’Riley” blared from the PA system, which means only one thing to veteran FM fans, show time. Dave King and bandmates took the stage driving right into “Paddy’s Lament,” the crowd coming alive with circle pits, people dancing and screaming to the lyrics. The Irish really know how to party, and the cast of FM got things real crazy real fast with frontman Dave working the entire stage getting the crowd fired up. FM songs are fast, fun and no matter how many times you hear them you can’t help but move to the infectious sounds. I’ve described FM shows in the past as a kind of dysfunctional family gathering, and I stand by that. Most shows are a sea of kilts, Dr. Martens, anything green and smiles from the fans who clearly feel at home with this band.
Flogging Molly worked through a diverse set list of songs going all the way back to 2000 with “Drunken Lullabies, “Life in a Tenement Square” and “Devils Dance floor” off the band’s debut album Swagger. For me the high points of the show were “Requiem for a Dying Song,” Black Friday Rules” and “Crushed,” a big bold song that clearly showcases the band’s musical prowess, my only wish would be to hear the hypnotic uilleann pipe intro live. No surprises from Flogging Molly, just a solid show by a veteran band who never disappoints!
Lucero is a unique band in that they straddle many musical genres including punk, country, and blues to achieve their trademark sound. Lucero shows are a real no-frills event, Ben Nichols usually wearing a ball cap and a plain white tee shirt on stage, this is a band that really lets the music do the talking, and honestly that’s all they need. Lucero is Ben Nichols on guitar and vocals, Roy Berry on drums, John Stubblefield on bass, Rick Steff on keys and Brian Venable on guitar. Lucero’s latest album Among the Ghost dropped in 2018 via their own label Liberty & Lament.
Lucero started their set with the title track off their new album “Among the Ghost,” a backdrop of the album on the stage like a photo of old school Americana. The crowd was immediately captivated by the bluesy medium tempo song with dark lyrics and wandering guitar riffs, Nichols raspy vocal delivery reminiscent of a singer in a smoke-filled Southern gin mill. Lucero continued their set which was dominated by their new music but included a few older songs including “Slow Dancing” and “On My Way Downtown.” I wouldn’t say Lucero’s set was fast-paced, more a slow burn of Southern gospel and blues-inspired songs that were laid back and uplifting at the same time, if that makes sense. I usually prefer music that hits a bit harder, but the more I listen to Lucero the more I appreciate their musical approach. I really look forward to catching a full dedicated set of theirs in the near future, a great set by Lucero!
In closing, this was a great show of veteran bands at a lovely venue, what’s not to like! Big thank you to Flogging Molly and Lucero for the great music as well as the always professional staff at the Fillmore Philadelphia for keeping everyone safe.