Live: Dropkick Murphys @ The Forum, London (19/01/2013)
Crowns – Teenage Bottlerocket
Sell-out Murphys *clap clap clap-clap-clap* Sell-out Murphys *clap clap clap-clap-clap* Sell-out Murphys *clap clap clap-clap-clap* No I’m not accusing the Dropkick Murphys of chasing the quick bucks – perish the thought – but merely trying to allude to the fact that this show at the hastily re-named The Forum is completely sold out.
Indeed it seems that there’s no better course of action for a cold winter’s night than to down a beer and to dance a jig with the boys out of Boston. It’s a sentiment that the Irish proper would probably agree with. I mean they always seem to be having a jolly fine time through those green-filtered stereotypical lenses with which we look over the water – except for the fighting of course…
But it’s the good time we’re after tonight, and sounding touch like the school project version of the Murphys themselves, with all the charm to match, Crowns (7/10) are an ideal, if not a little close, fit for tonight’s opening slot. This is folk spun out of Cornish legend though, with the clumsy title of fish-punk, as opposed to Ireland. Announcing that it’s their last date of the tour, these young ‘uns seem determined to put on a performance that will ensure they don’t end up as tomorrow’s fish papers. Although the vocals don’t always come through so strongly, and the guitarist’s instrument looks suspiciously like it has shrunk with the evening’s cold, by the end their likeable melodies have thawed out most of the crowd.
The furry leopard skin amps may look borrowed from a glam band but that’s not Teenage Bottlerocket (TBR) (6/10) at all – this is pure forever-14 pop punk with Ramones riffs. The name is pretty apt as it’s like someone shook up a load of youthful exuberance and let it go – and in much the same way it fizzles out quickly. But for a time it’s pure entertainment value – 30 second pogo party, in-song hi-5’s, behind head guitar playing, a roadie in a horror mask, exaggerated guitar jumps, and ‘the best trick in pop punk’, which fell flat. It’s like watching a cliché wrapped in a farce but TBR are having too much fun to care, and you get the feeling that like the kid with the bottle rocket, they’ll just keep looking for ways to go higher and faster.
Punk rock is a strange beast – a mixture of the immediacy of youth and the world perspectives of age. After close to 20 years penning tunes that you can both whistle, and kick up your heels to, Dropkick Murphys (9/10) are still singing from both sides of this song sheet. Even the name suggests a dual identity – Dropkick sounding like the street moniker of some wayward youth, and Murphys which invokes a kindly old grandfather, culture, tradition.
Although the Dropkick Murphys have plenty of heritage of their own, it is the new that comes to the fore tonight as the band launch into obvious opener ‘The Boys Are Back’ from latest release Signed And Sealed In Blood. Zipping straight into a mixed bag of the old (‘Bastards On Parade’), the older (‘Blood And Whiskey’), the recent (‘Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya’), and the brand spanking (‘Burn’) these Celtic punks have lost none of their open-to-all allure. After all this is a band that can make the banjo, tin whistle, bagpipes, and accordion seem as cool as the swankiest six-string.
With the set list heavily populated by newbie Signed And Sealed In Blood including ‘Prisoner’s Song’, ‘The Battle Rages On’, and ‘Jimmy Collins’ Wake’, it’s only a matter of time before ‘Rose Tattoo’ comes into bloom. Already a firm fan favourite, this poignant story-in-a-song is taken up by the crowd and roared back at the stage alongside the melodic leads of Ken Casey. It’s another Signed And Sealed track that ushers in the encore – ‘End Of The Night’ is the perfect come-closing-time pint-waver, quickly followed by Murphys classic ‘Skinhead On The MBTA’.
The band have long described themselves as the AC/DC of punk rock so it is fitting that a Irished-up cover of ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ pops up amongst the closing numbers. Pulling girls, and a few guys, up on the stage – many of which seem at a blank as to the song itself or perhaps just overwhelmed by the sheer I-can-put-this-on-Facebook of it all – Dropkick Murphys end the night in the only way that seems fitting – in the midst of fans and friends, and with a few drinks in hand.
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