THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
Even if you didn’t realize that St. Patrick’s Day
was coming, the concert calendars would’ve Paul Revered you with the Celtic-punk invasion of the Dropkick Murphys
(Mar. 8, House of Blues) and the Real McKenzies
(Mar. 9, Backbooth) that descended upon Orlando in a 24-hour period.
I have a bit of a thing for traditional Irish music
and how well it dovetails with punk. Maybe even more than that, I have a thing for the somewhat divisive bagpipes.
Well, almost no one does all that as roaringly or well as the Murphys.
I’ve seen them numerous times but it’s been years, possibly even a decade. In that time, they haven’t simply gotten bigger and broader, they’ve woven themselves deeper into the rich American tapestry,
going from hardcore hooligans to folk heroes as Boston’s rock & roll laureates.
I never really forgot how primary their appeal is. This show, however, was a forceful and triumphant reminder. Their songs are nothing if not emotionally straightforward.
They’re guilelessly obvious in a way that – like, say, love or parenthood – always feels cliché to write about. But when you’re there face to face with it and feeling it with all senses, well, it becomes viscerally universal.
Besides, the Murphys are all about heart, not art. Their blue-collar music’s got ethos and soul. It’s populist in ways far more authentic and virtuous than the people who usually co-opt the stance for politics. Their depiction of the majesty and heroism of the working class
in anthem after ringing anthem has made them one of the preeminent icons of America’s by-the-bootstraps immigrant culture, the one that the Right loves to downplay. And the Murphys do it loud, proud and with maximum pageantry.
Also, as this 2013 NYC show proves, they will beat some Nazi bonehead ass
What further bodes well for their legacy is that they’re a band that’s shown a remarkable ability to age. They’ve now become a multi-generational phenomenon
and are positioned to become a heritage act. What was once a boys night out is now a family affair. Kids were everywhere at the concert – in the crowd and even onstage, and not just during their all-aboard finale where the audience is welcomed up. They brought up 10-year-old Floridian Teagan Lynch
to sing the female parts of their classic duet “The Dirty Glass”:
According to singer-bassist Ken Casey on video captured a couple nights before at the St. Pete show, she’s the daughter of a friend (Gene Lynch) who actually tried out to be a singer for the Murphys back in the day and later relocated here.
For a socially conscious people’s band like them, though, the Murphys did miss a pretty big connective opportunity with Orlando as a fellow city of modern terrorist tragedy.
But that’s not a lapse in their show, just something that would’ve made for a truly historical moment. On all other counts, though, they brought their famous and peerless spirit with grand production to match.
For any of you Erin go Bros that want to keep the shamrock party going, Flogging Molly
will be playing House of Blues on Mar. 26.
This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene.
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