Dropkick Murphys rock out at The Orpheum
By Daniel Daw
Flagstaff got a taste of the Boston spirit as Dropkick Murphys took Flagstaff by storm and fans would have it no other way.
The show opened with Celtic punk band The Mahones and punk band Teenage Bottlerocket. Both sets were energetic and fun to listen to, however, the real show started when the Dropkick Murphys took to the stage.
Dropkick kicked off their set with a new song off of their upcoming album Signed and Sealed in Blood, which was a great way to start off. The song, “The Boys Are Back,” was exciting and their sound instantly gave the sense that these guys are not messing around. If anyone wasn’t pumped before they came on, they certainly were after the first few seconds. The show maintained this energy through the show, proving the Dropkick Murphys plays with the precision of the most veteran bands but with the energy of a much younger band.
The band previewed a few tracks off their upcoming album, including “Rose Tattoo” during their acoustic part of the set. The lyrics tell of times gone by. They also previewed their first holiday tune, “The Season is Upon Us,” a humorous song about how the Christmas and holiday season can be a fun time for those who happen to have a more interesting family dynamic.
Dropkick also played some of the old favorites. The crowd roared when the deep pounding bass notes of “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” began to reverberate through the theater. Other highlights of the show included “The State of Massachusetts” — with Jeff DaRosa’s impressive banjo solo to start it off — “Sunshine Highway,” “Going Out in Style,” and “Your Spirit’s Alive” — that began with Josh “Scruffy” Wallace wailing away on the bagpipes.
The sound quality of Dropkick Murphys was superb, between Ken Casey and Al Barr’s vocal qualities and that they combine so well. The guitars were powerful and loud and they mixed with the Celtic instruments — including the banjo, bagpipes, accordion and mandolin — perfectly.
The audience was pumped from the get go, chants of “Let’s go Murphys” could be heard intermittently prior to Dropkick Murphys set and after the band had left the stage the chant continued until the band returned for their encore. As is Dropkick Murphys tradition, they brought up around sixty fans during the song “Kiss Me I’m S***faced,” and they stayed up on stage and danced until the last song.
All in al,l Dropkick Murphys provided a night of awesome music that fans will not soon forget, and they eagerly await the band’s return to Flagstaff.
Lumberjack reporter Daniel Daw spoke with Josh Wallace, bagpiper for Dropkick Murphys about their performance at the Orpheum and their upcoming album Signed and Sealed in Blood.
The Lumberjack: Will this be the first time that Dropkick Murphys is playing in Flagstaff?
Josh Wallace: I think it is the first time we are playing in Flagstaff, but I honestly couldn’t say yes or no. I think it is the first time we are playing in Flagstaff but we’re looking forward to getting out there and having a good night.
LJ: For the show on Nov. 13, can we expect to hear any songs off of the upcoming album Signed and Sealed in Blood?
JW: Absolutely, you can probably expect to hear between three and five of the new songs off of the new record, [to] give everyone a little preview of what’s to come on the new record in January and hopefully everyone will dig it. We’re all very proud of it.
LJ: You guys are on tour quite a bit. Are there a lot of challenges in writing and recording albums when you guys seem to be touring a lot?
JW: With Going out in Style it just seemed that there was so much creative stuff going around among the seven of us that it was kind of a continuation of that record. With this new album, Signed and Sealed in Blood it was kind of more of — whereas [Going Out in Style] was more of a serious album — this is more of a sing-along album. So we wanted to, kind of, have an album were we get to have a lot of fun and sing and dance. We work while we are on the road, it gives us something to accomplish while we’re out. It has its certain challenges but I think we all — this is what we drive on so we just wanted to get the album done, we didn’t want a four year gap as we did last time. We just wanted to get done and we hope that people will love it as much as we do, we’re very proud of it.
LJ: When looking at the tour dates, I noticed you guys aren’t stopping in Phoenix or Tucson. Is there a particular reason for choosing Flagstaff over those two or is that just how it happened to be?
JW: We were in Phoenix and Tucson last year, so we figured that — we try to get to places that we don’t usually go because not many people travel and we will try to be more accommodating to smaller towns and maybe towns that we have never been [to] — we want to hit every place on the map. As far as that goes and just decided ‘Hey we’ll go to some city that we’ve never been to’ or one we’ve only been to once before and we wanted to go back. And just make sure people who are in that town can come to a Dropkick show, maybe they couldn’t get to a Phoenix show or a different show because they’re in Tucson or whatever they can’t get to Phoenix so we wanted to cover people who wanted to see us but couldn’t. And plus, we heard Flagstaff is a blast so we wanted to see what all the hype was about.
LJ: Is there anything in particular in Flagstaff that you’re excited to see?
JW: I have heard that there are a lot of good bars, I don’t know if there is any gravity to that. I have heard the rumor that there are some really cool pubs and local establishments that were pretty awesome.
LJ: In listening to your songs, I notice that the Celtic part of what you guys do and the punk rock part merge so well together, why do you think the two styles merge so well?
JW: Celtic music originally was; it’s a form of punk music if you think about it. They sang songs about rebelling against a common enemy, oppression and that’s really what punk music is — a rebellious form of music. It’s just a natural transition from old to new and I think keeping in with some of the older stuff that’s why it transitions so well because it’s meant to be played as rebellious type music. And I think all of those old songs make great punk songs.
LJ: You guys seem to have a very loyal fan base. How does this affects how you guys perform?
JW: We try to give everything; we do give everything that we can. It’s like a tennis match we give everything that we can because we owe that to our fans. And then in return our fans give everything that they have and that makes us want to play harder. In which it’s a kind of a give and give situation where we play as hard as we can and then that translates to the fans going crazy and that in turn vindicates us in what we’re doing on stage, it’s a reciprocation between them and us. We’re all one big, happy family out there anyway.
LJ: How long did it take to write and record the new album?
JW: The album it probably took — I mean, the writing process is a never ending thing. We’re always writing, we’re always — you know, the guys are always coming up with ideas and passing stuff around. As far as it goes for recording it probably took us close to two months. We ended taking a little longer than we had expected . . . we just wanted to take the time to make the best record that we could, that Dropkick could possibly make, because again we owe it to our fans to give them. We have such a loyal fan base because when you listen to a Dropkick Murphys’ record you know that we are giving 110 percent.