Saturday June 2nd, at Tags Summer Stage in Big Flats, NY, the Irish Punk Band lineup that fans have been dreaming about for over 20 years played for a near sold out crowd of almost 5,000. I remember the first time I saw Flogging Molly, it was the early 2000s and on my way home from the show, I said, “Wow. They are amazing. It would be awesome if they went on tour with the Dropkick Murphy’s.” It was finally happening. I almost couldn’t believe it. You could feel the energy in the air. Fans were excited.
Kicking off the evening was punk legend, Jake Burns, of the Stiff Little Fingers. He played a rousing solo, acoustic set that made me want to see him with the whole band. Burns set the tone for the rest of the show. This was going to be a night of invigorating Irish Punk Music. Burn’s set was mellow but the crowd knew what the rest of the night had in store for them.
Up next were Flogging Molly. The crowd had filled in and the area in front of the stage was a sea of people. I have to admit, Flogging Molly is one of my favorite bands to see live. The first time I saw them, I was left wanting more. Their music and their stage presence creates a fun, light-hearted atmosphere even during the more serious songs. Flogging Molly played a nice mix of new songs off their current release Life Is Good and old favorites. Opening their set with “Crushed (Hostile Nations)” got fans up and moving to this Irish anthem. Notable favorites included: “Drunken Lullabies,” “Devil’s Dance Floor,” “If I Ever Leave This World Alive,” and set closer “Salty Dogs.” Their performance was incredible and I could have listened to them for an hour more.
Flogging Molly had to leave time for the infamous Dropkick Murphy’s to do their thing. From the moment the bagpipes and canons from the Dropkick’s intro could be heard, fans went nuts chanting, “Let’s go Murphy’s!” The Dropkick’s hit the stage and like the whirlwind that punk rock is meant to be, they ripped right into song after song. They kicked off their set with “The Lonesome Boatman” followed by a rather unusual choice in my opinion, “Captain Kelly’s Kitchen.” Everyone sang along to “Johnny, I hardly Knew Ya,” “Barroom Hero” and their famous cover of “Rocky Road to Dublin.” Singer/guitarist Ken Casey paused to explain to the crowd that he wasn’t playing guitar because he had just had back surgery and a lot of stitches and wouldn’t be able to play for several months. He didn’t let that slow him down as he ran around the stage trading off vocals with Al Barr. The band finished the evening strong with a five song encore that included, “The Body of an American” (The Pogues cover), “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced,” “Skinhead on the MBTA,” and a unique cover of AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” Fans love the Dropkicks and they give their fans many reasons to love them. Not many bands let fans up on the stage to sing with them. This has always been one of the Dropkick’s signature trademarks. Not surprisingly, it was an incredible night of high energy, bop up and down, good old Irish Punk Rock Music!