Dropkick Murphys Perform The Coca Cola Roxy in Atlanta – After forming in 1996, Celtic punk rockers, Dropkick Murphys have been entertaining huge audiences around the globe without fail. The band consists of vocalist – Al Barr, bassist – Ken Casey, guitarists – James Lynch, Jeff DaRosa, Tim Brennan and drummer – Matt Kelly. Jeff DaRosa and Tim Brennan also bring talent of playing the bagpipes, mandolin, bouzouki, harmonica, and other instruments to the table. This is a group of heavily gifted musicians in many ways. As fun as their recorded music is to just listen to, they are also undeniably engaging live. Their shows, from start to finish, provide a collection of songs that lift spirits, both symbolically and factually. They just make you feel good all the way around, providing liveliness and bounce in every step on stage, catapulting the fans into a whirlwind of ecstasy.
Like every other DKM concert I’d been to, this one was also a packed house. The venue, The Coca Cola Roxy, is a an amazing venue that offers a plethora of space, a grand stage with plenty of room for the antics of the band, wonderful food choices and of course, your choice of just about any tasty beverage you might desire. DKM acknowledged their fans in Atlanta as they applauded their commitment and loyalty to the band since 1996. They thanked Agnostic Front, who has been like family to the band. Over 20 years ago, Agnostic Front took them on tour through Europe and America for about 25 weeks straight. They also hyped up the premier of Agnostic Fronts’ documentary ‘The Godfathers of Hardcore’, which is a film by Ian McFarland. In addition, they talked about the foundations and charities that DKM are a part of, the suffering that caused them to create or become a part of them and the good that they have done. DKM are a band that truly has heart and compassion and they give back whenever they can. They are a special breed of musicians whose hearts are always in the right place.
As usual, they taunted the fans with a prelude before they hit the stage. This time it was an Irish Medley, “The Foggy Dew”, which immediately got everyone’s throttle racing. All around people grasped their beers tightly as they hoisted their hands high in the air in approval, waiting for the impending arrival of DKM on stage. This is a band that never disappoints and whose following is die-hard. They kicked off the set with “The State of Massachusetts and The Boys Are Back”. The crowd was dancing in place, screaming, drinking and singing along loudly. Their vigorous movements across the stage, as Barr jumped on and off, won over the crowd as they watched and welcomed his interaction with them. Each song followed the last without skipping a beat. The music was full of bounce as Barr seduced and entranced everyone with his gritty vocals. Bassist, Ken Casey, continued to pump up the crowd in between songs with short bits of appreciative enthusiasm, never-failing to be humble to the fans that got them where they are today.
In the crowd, kilts were visible everywhere being worn by men and women who were all enthusiastic about the background of the music being played. Behind the band, a screen displayed constantly changing visual interpretations and symbolic images of the songs being played. This always gives a little more oomph to a song, giving each one a little more personality and background, creating more meaning. Barr continued to command the stage as crowd surfing fans were constantly and rapidly thrust toward the stage. As I watched security, they had their hands full as bodies came, one after the other, with no gaps in between giving them no time to catch a breath.
The band continued, providing a massive collection of their most popular songs, both old and new. “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya” and “First Class Loser” rang loud and proud through the venue. From their newest album release, ’11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory’, they performed “Rebels with a Cause”, “Blood”, and “Paying My Way”, among others. About half way through fans were asked if they’d like to hear an oldie compilation or one of more current songs. Though I’m unsure if age for the majority of the crowd on this evening played a part or not, oldies but goodies was the vote of choice. That choice led us to a trifecta of brilliance with “Barroom Hero”, “Boys on the Docks” and “Caught in a Jar”, all from their 1998 album release of ‘Do or Die’. This album sparked the beginning for DKM and there has been no stopping them since. Casey also requested fan input when deciding whether to play a cover of a Johnny Cash song or a cover of a song by the Clash. He emphasized that neither was a wrong choice but that the strength of the applause usually goes extremely one way or extremely the other. This time, it was the Clash that won so we were provided with an amazing version of “I Fought the Law”. Whether it is a real term or not, I’d say their version was completely “Dropkick Murphied” to perfection; obviously not their song, but clearly flawless in their interpretation of it.
As the night came closer to an end, the energy was still going strong on stage and in the audience. The played an extended version of “Rose Tattoo” off of their 2013 album, ‘Signed and Sealed in Blood’. This song is my personal all-time favorite. The album title was derived from some of the lyrics and fan tattoos of the new album logo was used in CD and vinyl packaging for the album. “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” was played before the night ended. This is yet another song that had a hellacious background. Over the years, it has been featured in multiple TV shows and movies, used as the walk-up song for multiple baseball players, used heavily in the NHL for various reasons and is even part of the downloadable content for video games likes Guitar Hero. It’s a massive hit for the boys.
The band ended the night with “Until the Next Time”. It is a popularly used closing song for them. Just as they always do, fans were pulled up on stage during the song and continued crowding the stage until it was running over with happy, exuberant faces, all swaying back and forth, partaking in the concert experience in the most sentimental way possible. During the song, surfers were still surfing to get that last joyous moment in before it was over. The crowd was so excited that one female surfer was pushed so hard and fast that she hit a massive speaker head first before she landed. The band took her backstage and made sure she was alright. Just another reason these guys rock.
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