Dropkick Murphys

support Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls + Jesse Ahern
author PP date 02/02/20 venue KB Hallen, Copenhagen, DEN

It's my second time at KB Hallen since it was rebuilt, yet I still marvel at just how different it looks from the original. A modern, but also somewhat soulless venue, that seems way bigger than the old one and indeed bigger than it needs to be in the Copenhagen concert scene. For Dropkick Murphys, it's about the same size as last time they came around these corners where they played at Valby Hallen, but tonight being a Sunday show, it's far from sold out even if a good few thousand people have shown up.

Jesse Ahern

Jesse Ahern

Tonight's opening act is Jesse Ahern, a blue-collar singer-songwriter with a gravelly voice that's been playing mostly locally in Boston, but also worked at venues like House Of Blues Boston, LA Palladium and The Fillmore in Denver. He goes for a country-laden, cozy solo acoustic show with the occasional harmonica and foot stomp for good measure, but overall he feels misplaced on such a large stage. It's cozy, relaxing and somewhat charming, but without necessarily being exciting or memorable. Most people opt for chatting in the crowd as his scratchy vocals and acoustic guitar leave too much of the space unfilled.

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

Stepping on stage wearing color-coded white shirts with Frank Turner additionally wearing a black tie, the stage is set for the self-proclaimed half-assed English country singer to charm yet another audience with his troubadour-style, semi-acoustic singer-songwriter performances. And like most other Frank Turner shows, his energetic performance shows he hasn't forgotten his punk roots even as he's now approaching his forties: the man is constantly storming across the stage, sliding on the floor, breaking out from his mic stand often barely making it back to start the next line in each song.

Frank Turner

The KB Hallen sound has polished away the ire and aggression from especially his older material, but the songs are delivered faithfully and with the kind of conviction that wakes up the crowd big time on a Sunday night usually associated with sleepy crowds already preparing for the upcoming work week. Turner is taking none of that: first, he requests a walking-speed circle pit for "Photosynthesis" that slowly increases in speed to a full-speed one, and later he makes his way into the crowd during "Four Simple Words" to show he really means it when he signs "aaand I want to dance" - finishing things off with a stage dive from the barrier.

Frank Turner

In between, he sandwiches quality material like "Plain Sailing Weather", "Eulogy", as well as the slower tracks like "The Road" that even incites a sing-along from the Dropkick crowd. We hear the folksy new track "Jinny Bingham's Ghost", and many others as he switches up between acoustic and electric, delivering an altogether enjoyable, upbeat singer-songwriter performance that shows punk undertones all along the way.

Setlist:

  • 1. Get Better
  • 2. 1933
  • 3. The Lioness
  • 4. Try This At Home
  • 5. If Ever I Stray
  • 6. Photosynthesis
  • 7. Plain Sailing Weather
  • 8. Long Live The Queen
  • 9. Jinny Bingham's Ghost
  • 10. Eulogy
  • 11. The Next Storm
  • 12. The Road
  • 13. Recovery
  • 14. I Still Believe
  • 15. Four Simple Words

Dropkick Murphys

Dropkick Murphys

As has become customary, Dropkick Murphys open their set with traditional instrumentation in the form of "Foggy Dew" that leads straight into "The Lonesome Boatman" that allows the band to appear on the elevated stage one-by-one before singers Al Barr and Ken Casey turn KB Hallen into a party right away on "Boys Are Back". Mr. Barr, in particular, looks mean and lean, lurking like a panther at the crowd while pacing left-and-right across the stage, showcasing the original Boston working-class attitude that has made the band legendary in punk rock circles over the past two and a half decades. The way he charges forward throws high-fives at the front rows and delivers his performance just oozes of conviction and credibility, which unfortunately couldn't be more of a contrast to Ken Casey tonight. Where Barr storms and rages on stage, Casey looks... a little fat and out-of-breath, like it's just another day in the office for him. But more on that later.

Dropkick Murphys

Behind the band, they have the usual video screen, but it triumphs many bigger productions because of the combination of video content, live content, lyrics from key moments of the songs, and sometimes just darkness to allow us to appreciate the band's performance alone. The latter is typically associated when the band go deep into their discography, which happens to a surprising extent today: a whopping six tracks off 2005's "The Warrior's Code" are aired, alongside a couple each from 1999's "The Gang's All Here" and 2001's "Sing Loud, Sing Proud!". This gives the show more of a punk rock vibe, which is of course broken by the bigger power-ballads like "Blood", or the Jackass-style smash-it-up video of, yes, "Smash It Up" from the upcoming new record.

The slow songs have their place in a Celtic-themed soundscape like this one, for sure, but it's no secret that the biggest party in the crowd is during the punk rockers like "God Willing", "The State Of Massachusetts" and "Citizen C.I.A." rather than the sing-along anthems like "Rose Tattoo" or "Prisoner's Song". And this encapsulates the story of tonight's show nicely: solid throughout but with a rollercoaster ride between feeling merely decent and injections of high-energy segments that get the crowd moving.

Dropkick Murphys

Regrettably, the split is more obvious tonight than usual: when Barr is leading, the Dropkicks are like a well-oiled machine, like a freight train of energy that won't accept a stand-still crowd and embeds their best bagpiped-fueled Celtic melodies within their punk rock expression. However, when Casey's the main man, the party sort of... whistles away.

That said, even in such a state the Murphys are a marvel to watch throughout, and incite an echoing "let's go Murphys" chant for the encore from the crowd. As usual, fans start pouring on stage for the finale of "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" before "Until The Next Time" finishes the set with a good few dozen people on stage partying alongside the band.

Dropkick Murphys

A solid set that we've seen many times before from the band, although often in a better form (like last summer's Malmö outdoor set), but it just underlines how consistent this band is even on a Sunday night.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. The Lonesome Boatman
  • 2. The Boys Are Back
  • 3. The Fighting 69th
  • 4. Blood
  • 5. Prisoner's Song
  • 6. The Battle Rages On
  • 7. The Auld Triangle
  • 8. The Wild Rover
  • 9. Smash Shit Up
  • 10. Your Spirit's Alive
  • 11. Sunshine Highway
  • 12. (F)lannigan's Ball
  • 13. Cruel
  • 14. God Willing
  • 15. Amazing Grace
  • 16. Citizen C.I.A.
  • 17. Whiskey in the Jar
  • 18. Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
  • 19. The Warrior's Code
  • 20. The State of Massachusetts
  • 21. The Bonny (Gerry Cinnamon cover)
  • 22. Out of Our Heads
  • 23. Going Out in Style
  • --Encore--
  • 24. Rose Tattoo
  • 25. I'm Shipping Up to Boston
  • 26. Until the Next Time

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

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