[live review] Shipping up to Fenway Park with the Dropkick Murphys and Bosstones

PHOTOS: See Dan Watkins's slideshow for more live photos from the Dropkick Murphys/Bosstones show

If someone had told me 10 years ago that I’d be seeing a pretty killer punk rock show at Fenway Park, I would’ve responded with something like, "Wow, that’s kind of fucked up." Which it probably is, in some respects, but the grand Pooh-Bahs of Irish folk punk DROPKICK MURPHYS long ago bridged whatever gap exists between punks and people who really like baseball. Logic mandated that they get themselves hyped up for their Shamrock-n-Roll festival at Fenway.

Last night and tonight’s shindig feature two stages, the main facing away from the diamond towards outfield seating, and a second set up in the lobby area. With STREET DOGS and MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES pulling main stage support duty for Dropkicks, you could say the show was a real ...home run (fucking kill me).

But naw, seriously, it was real good. Some observations:

- Maybe taking a few years off in the mid-‘00s was a wise move on the part of Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Despite his onstage claim to the contrary, Dicky Barrett can, like, sing now. Last night, he wasn’t just croaking and gurgling monotone into the microphone like he did during the Bosstones’ heyday. He was hitting different notes, arranging them in a melodic series, emoting when it served the lyrics! And really well! Maybe the vacation gave his vocal cords some overdue time to heal?

- The dancing Bosstone dude has the easiest job in show business. He’s been at this since, what, the mid-‘80s? And he still only knows something like 10 dance moves, which are all basically variations of one dance move? ‘Ously?

- As more ‘80s and ‘90s punks settle into middle age, we can all now see how spiky colored hair looks even stupider once male pattern baldness becomes a factor. Meanwhile, the Bosstones’ practice of wearing plaid suits onstage seems less like a gimmick, and more like a plan calculated long ago. They can wear the exact same gear they wore onstage in their younger crazy days, and instead of looking like a bunch of walking midlife crises, they look like dapperly dressed gentleman with class and style. It’s as if they knew well in advance that they’d still be a band when some of them were pushing 50.

- While Chuck Ragan and his accompanying fiddle and stand-up bass players delivered an exceptional set of poignant folk punk on the lobby stage, some lumbering lout turned to me and asked, "Do you think the fiddle player is real, or is he making it up?" What the fuck did that mean? Then he drooled on me a little while trying to yell something into my ear. Chuck Ragan > That guy. By a lot.

- "We were going to wear the jerseys, but do we really need to show how much we love this team?" mentioned Ken Casey, shortly before Dropkicks kicked into awesome mode with "(F)lannigan’s Ball." Yeah, I was worried they were going to perform in Red Sox jerseys, which would’ve caused me to roll my eyes so hard I’d be looking at my own brain, which I suspect looks pretty gross.

But for all the cheesy cross promotional tie-in shit they do with the Sox, Dropkicks remain one of the best live bands currently in existence. Taking to the stage with a small army of rotating auxiliary performers -- including bagpipers, fiddlers, an accordion player, and guest vocalists -- is the Dropkicks’ norm at this point.

But their four-song acoustic interlude contained so much chuckling, expository mid-song banter that they’re all but guaranteed to be invited onto VH1 Storytellers perdy soon. (To my mild shock, the unplugged rendition of "Echoes on A. Street" turned out to be my favorite song the night) Also, there were fireworks! Just for the first song and the last song, but still pretty cool, right?

- Some random dude named Chris proposed to his girlfriend onstage. All-too-appropriately, Dropkicks proceeded to play "Going Out in Style," a song about a funeral.

- After Casey forked over a $25,000 Publishers Clearing House size check to the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund –- that being their slice of the evening’s gate -- he asked for a moment of silence. One guy on the other side of the stadium kept talking. I know this ‘cause everyone else was really quiet. Everyone else > That guy.

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