28 April 2019

DropKick Murphy’s Gig review – Brixton Academy, London 26.04.9


My brother-in-law is a Bostonian , to prevent any future embarrassment and for the benefit of this review let’s call him Brian . For it was he who first introduced me to the DKM,  I was already aware that the Massachusetts state capital was famed for bring the likes of Aerosmith , The Pixies , The Cars , Extreme , The Lemonheads and of course the City’s namesake , Boston to my record collection .The DKM however had never entered my radar’s field of view until Brian joined the family, and then the tales of the now infamous DKM St Patrick Day’s gigs and all the shenanigans that rode in their wakes gained my attention. At Brian’s wedding , the bride and groom’s first dance was  Never Forget ,a song that starts with gentile bagpipes turning into a frantic oi-punk -mosh-pit-smash-about . It cleared the dance floor. Quality.

The DKM took their name from a Dr John Dropkick Murphy’s alcohol-detoxification facility in their home State , which appears to be a tad ironic as the amount of alcohol that must have been consumed by the capacity 5,000 audience pre, during and after the gig was enough to quench the thirst of the US Navy. For one night only, Brixton was full of red checked shirt wearing , flat cap nodding , bearded blokes of a certain age , a sprinkling of the odd Mohican punk and a lot of young men in shorts, and that my friends, is always a sign that the forthcoming few hours were going to be hot and sweaty. The rest of the swell was a cross section of London’s caucasian populous. A right mixed bunch indeed, such is the crossover appeal of the band.

The grade II listed Academy , like most of the old great rock venues started life as a cinema designed for the gentle folk of the time , it opened in 1929 and for the most part still maintains the original or restored architecture , including the auditorium with busts of now forgotten famous people and faux foliage up the walls, Brian would have approved. Most people however are more impressed with the sloping floor to the stage, the bars set at the back and the designated loo’s either side and most importantly ,the acoustics.

The support band was The Devil makes three , a band I am ashamed to say I knew nothing about. A three piece (with added drummer) which made a fine introduction to what I have been informed is ragtime, country , bluegrass rockabilly. Halfway through the set guitarist and vocalist Pete Bernhard spoke the first  verse of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs , which was bizarre but worked, so hey. A double bass is always fun to watch being played and Lucia Turino was good at it. I really liked them , and so did the crowd which for a support act was big, bouncing and responsive but as their set concluded the Dropkick Murphy’s chants started and continued until they hit the stage at 9:20.

There was a palpable sense of anticipation and a genuine buzz about the place , the crowd was really up for it. The lights went down , Sinead O’Connor’s – The foggy Dew came over the PA and the roar went up and as the song faded the curtain opened to a lone bagpiper in a spot light and moments later the band entered and the pit went nuts. The band were dressed in all black with short sleeved shirts , Al Barr , one of the two lead singers wore a black flat cap, making sense of the cheeky Blinders lookalikes within the audience . Barr had the presence of a bare knuckle fighter, his partner in crime and only original member Ken Casey however looked more like Gary Barlow’s brother! The opener, Cadence to Arms was frenetic , the band ran around , the singers taking turn to jump into the pit embracing the faithful at the front and this was the common factor for the rest of the show. Talking was at a minimum, but enough to let the crowd know that the sold out UK shows have led to a gig at London’s Ali Palli in February next year. The bounce factor was set at 11 , the first 15 rows had no choice but to go with the flow , the crowd surfers surfed , the beer throwers threw and the crowd jumpers jumped. The 25 strong set covered their whole career including a handful of covers and a half dozen from their latest 2017 release 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory. No DKM gig is complete without The State of Massachusetts , I’m shipping up to Boston and my favourite Rose Tattoo. The encore was no let up and when they finally finished that’s when the bouncing ended.

As a non-checked shirted, bearded cap wearer fella of a certain age , I was more than happy to watch from a distance,  this gave me the advantage of saving me getting soaked in booze , my back from the jumping , my hands from the clapping and my throat from the singing. Those sensible enough to be wearing shorts were clearly pleased with themselves as it was fucking hot in Brixton Academy.

At a time in this Country’s history when it feels that the population is angry and is at its most divided, five thousand souls came together as one for a few hours in a hall in South London , and that my friends is the beauty of music.

Brian ,thank you sir for your introduction and I doth my literal cap to you and your cities finest. Book your flights and join me at Alexandra Palace next year.


Set List

[Intro – The foggy dew (Sinead O’Connor)]

Cadence to Arms

The Boys are back

Johnny, I hardly knew ya


Rebels with a cause

Curse of a fallen soul

The gangs all here

Sandlot – new album

Don’t tear up apart

The State of Massachusetts

First class loser

Going out in style

The fields of Athenry

Caught in a jar

The Irish Rover

Sunshine Highway

Paying my way

The walking dead

James Connolly

Rose Tattoo

Out of our heads

Workers song


The body of an American

I’m shipping up to Boston

Until the next time


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Photo’s via an Iphone .