Dropkick Murphys

support The Guv´Nors
author PP date 24/06/14 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

It has become somewhat of a tradition now that the jolly celtic punks Dropkick Murphys land on our shores about once a year. Three years in a row now we've had the chance to experience their always-excellent live show, but never yet in as intimate surroundings as at the 1000-capacity Amager Bio, which helps explain why the show is rammed from floor to the balcony tonight. Their tradition of bringing awesome foreign support (previously: Against Me!, Bouncing Souls, Frank Turner) is sadly broken, however, and instead we only get local support tonight, who do a decent job at warming up the crowd nonetheless thanks to their no-nonsense expression.

The Guv'Nors vocalist in his favorite stance

The Guv'Nors

The Guv'Nors originate from Århus, and have been specifically requested to perform tonight by Dropkick Murphys drummer Matt Kelly. They're a totally new acquaintance for me and most others despite having been a band for 14 years now, yet they manage to fire up the crowd in considerable fashion at the start of their show. Their songs are straightforward three chord punk rockers with strong Oi! / street / rock'n'roll influences embedded within; a few catchy tunes appear in between that get people's heads nodding and even a one-man circle pit going towards the right for a while. But any sort of crowd dynamic they stir up is quickly gone thanks to an extremely static stance on stage, where the band practically looks like they're nailed to the ground within their own two-by-two meter zones. The vocalist doesn't move at all despite not having other duties than his microphone, and I counted exactly one jump from their guitarist. Nothing is really going on, so it's hard to appreciate the band, even if they throw in an excellent melody every now and then. Towards the end, the singer pulls out a harmonica, which is one of the few noteworthy moments during their set, but it's too little, too late for the undersigned. Combined with the fact that the band play for 50 minutes, which is at least double as long as they should be playing with the inconsistency in their material, it's a lukewarm support slot that's difficult to write about because, as I mentioned, nothing at all was really going on.

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Dropkick Murphys

A lengthy, traditional celtic tune "The Foggy Dew" introduces to us to the massive Dropkick Murphys banner that can't even fit on stage in its entirety without being covered by the drums, before the band runs on stage and absolutely explode into old classic "For Boston". The sheer amount of energy on display from the get go is overwhelming; vocalist Al Barr is all over the place, primarily rushing side to side by the barrier high fiving anyone giving him a chance, patting people on the back and delivering one chanted sing along melody after another. "The Boys Are Back" follows and gets the crowd even more rowdy than the high-octane "For Boston" just did, and from here on it's a dance party in the middle of the crowd that doesn't cease to exist until long after the final song finishes.

Al Barr of Dropkick Murphys

"LET'S GO MURPHYS" *clap, clap, clapclapclap*, is the crowd chant every few songs, sometimes based on the drummer's bass drum encouragement, sometimes completely organically and randomly. Few bands can boast that kind of dedication from the fans, which is also why the band recognize that during the show: "We play here so much we feel like a local band, thanks for making us feel so welcome". The crowd response is enormous: when we aren't pumping fists, we are waving our hands left and right ("Black Velvet Band") or singing along from the top of our lungs ("The Wild Rover", "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya", "Fields Of Athenry", "Rose Tattoo"). It's so loud at times that Barr takes off his earplugs just to enjoy the brilliant atmosphere, that is the result of high energy Celtic onslaught feverish dancing on stage, and contagious fun in the crowd's side where virtually nobody is filming or taking photos with their cellphones. That's a rare sight, but it speaks volumes about what kind of an experience tonight's show is.

Stage view from the balcony

Al Barr's energy seems never-ending: he spends virtually the whole show at the barrier as close to the crowd as possible, which works exceptionally well because the band plays for almost 90 minutes straight with few if any pauses in between to uphold the infectious energy levels throughout the show. But when he does exit the stage for the songs which are led by bassist Ken Casey instead, the rest of the band take over and pay their dues at the barrier. The guitarist, the accordionist, and pretty much the whole band jump against the crowd at front, that is, when they aren't busy engaging the crowd on their side with frenetic energy on stage. Everyone on stage looks like they're having an incredible fun time playing, and why wouldn't they? The crowd response is fantastic, thanks to a VERY balanced setlist that is hit after hit after hit, without ignoring their classic material. Plenty of songs from "Do Or Die", "Sing Loud, Sing Proud" and "Blackout" eras mean that old school fans are satisfied, whilst the best tracks off "Going Out In Style" and "Signed And Sealed In Blood" are aired with beautiful execution.

Ken Casey of Dropkick Murphys

The tin whistles, the bagpipes, the mandolins, the harmonicas all add atmosphere and character to the show that keeps the crowd going song after song, but there's nothing like a classic Dropkick Murphys encore after "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" closes the regular set to echoing sing alongs: during "Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced", the band invites all female members on stage to dance and sing along (as is tradition at every Dropkick show), and halfway through the song I count about 30 or 40 girls dancing amidst the band, who are now stacked on top of their amps and at the barrier to be seen by the rest of the crowd. Then it's time for some old school material in the form of "Skinhead On The MTBA" and "Boys On The Docks", during which guys invade the scene as well. By the end of it, the stage is packed to its limits with nearly 100 people on stage dancing and going crazy out there, even after dancing for 90 minutes straight. But that's what a Dropkick Murphys show is all about: pure fun, with some of the best songs in punk rock. They are always, always awesome live, a true upbeat party and an example that yes, even on a Tuesday, it is possible to ignite the crowd like it was Halloween on a Friday night. Seriously though, Roskilde what the fuck are you thinking NOT booking them this year? Wake the fuck up.

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Setlist:

  • 1. For Boston
  • 2. The Boys Are Back
  • 3. Black Velvet Band
  • 4. Don't Tear Us Apart
  • 5. Going Out in Style
  • 6. Which Side Are You On?
  • 7. Prisoner's Song
  • 8. Bastards on Parade
  • 9. My Hero
  • 10. The Wild Rover
  • 11. The Walking Dead
  • 12. Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
  • 13. Jimmy Collins' Wake
  • 14. Vengeance
  • 15. Deeds Not Words
  • 16. Fields of Athenry
  • 17. Tomorrow's Industry
  • 18. Cruel
  • 19. Barroom Hero
  • 20. Rose Tattoo
  • 21. Captain Kelly's Kitchen
  • 22. I'm Shipping Up to Boston
  • --Encore:--
  • 23. Takin' Care of Business (Bachman-Turner Overdrive cover)
  • 24. Out of Our Heads
  • 25. Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced
  • 26. Skinhead on the MBTA
  • 27. Boys on the Docks

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

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