Imagine 20 degree weather, fresh snow on the ground, freezing rain falling from the sky; sounds like a perfect night to stay home, doesn’t it? Well a little winter didn’t stop hundreds of fans from waiting on line at the local Huntington Paramount Theater to seeing their favorite Celtic Bands on the Celtic Punk Invasion Tour. The Dropkick Murphy’s, The Mahones, Blood or Whiskey, and Bryan McPherson played their hearts out at the greenest night of the year, besides Saint Patrick’s Day. The night started out with Bryan McPherson, playing harmonica and acoustic guitar. It’s not every day you see a folk singer step out into open a rock concert, but Bryan knocked it out of the park with his folky harmonica and his hard punk-rock guitar playing. His lyrics are harsh and compelling at the same time, speaking to personal prejudices and societal pressures. His set was short but he left a lasting impression because of how passionately he plays his music and feels his lyrics.
This was my first time hearing Blood or Whiskey, and quite honestly, I wish I had heard of them sooner. You couldn’t get more Irish with Blood or Whiskey, originating from Dublin, Ireland. You had six crazy Irishmen running around the stage dancing with each other playing guitars, banjos, accordions and other sorts of instruments with a lot of chanting clapping and foot stomping. It was an all around good time and they know how to get a crowd off their feet and dancing with them with hits like “They Say No” from their 2005 album “Cashed out on Culture”.
The Mahones came out as the third act, and boy did they put on a show. Between Finny McConnell‘s singing, and Katie McConnell‘s accordion playing, you didn’t know where to look or who to watch because they were so animated. McConnell worked her way from one side of the stage to the other proudly stomping in tune to her playing; you could see the music alive in her. The two of them totally stole the stage. That’s not to say that Eryk Chamberland on bass, Sean Winter on mandolin and Dom Whelan on drums didn’t rock it out, because they were amazing as well.
Finally Dropkick Murphy’s come on, with a larger than life stage. They took the crazy Irish rock party to the next level with a half elevated stage, a lit back drop, and a crazy lighting sequence. The audience went wild in a drunken dance singing along to songs like “Rocky Road to Dublin” from the album 2001 album Sing Loud, Sing Proud!, and “Shipping up to Boston” off the 2005 album The Warrior’s Code. The show goes on with Al Barr keeping the audiences energy level at a high, and then he does something quite unique, and it’s something only the Dropkick Murphy’s could come up with. He pulls out a chair and a dart board and places it on the front of the stage. 25 songs appear on their lit back drop, and he entrusts a drunken audience member in throwing a dart and choosing their next song to play. The first dart is thrown, it land on 78 RPM, a bonus track off of their 2013 album Signed & Sealed in Blood. It’s a big hit. They do this for three more songs, landing on “Hatebomb” from the 2005 album The Warrior’s Code, “Outcast” from the 2003 album Blackout, and the crowds favorite so far, “Dirty Water” from a live album recorded in their home town of Boston in 2002 Live on St. Patrick’s Day. They ended the night with favorites “Rose Tattoo” from their newest 2013 album Signed and Sealed in Blood, “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya” from the 2007 album The Meanest of Times, and the epitome of Irish-ness “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced” from the 2003 album Blackout.
Review and photos by Rachel Amato