GALLING: The Dropkicks crowd continued to slosh and mosh through “The Fields of Athenry.”
As always, Dropkick Murphys began their Saint Patrick’s Day show with a recording of the Chieftains/Sinéad O’Connor version of “The Foggy Dew.” It’s a solemn, stirring song, lionizing those who fought and fell in the Easter Rising of 1916. And it was a drag to hear it punctuated by moronic chants of “Yankees suck!”
It wouldn’t be the last time beery hooliganism intruded on the Dropkicks’ seriousness of purpose that night. Not that the band weren’t having fun: despite the grueling toll of five straight nights of maximum rock and roll (including Tsongas Arena and the Dorchester IBEW Hall), the seven members — including ex-Vigilantes guitarist Jeff DaRosa, who’s replaced departed dynamo Marc Orrell — commanded the stage with explosive exuberance. After shows in the cavernous Tsongas, they fed off the energy of the small room with drunk-punk salvos like “Good Rats” and “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced.”
But more often their 27-song set hewed toward sober-mindedness. The hurtling, grim-faced “Citizen CIA” was a welcome return to their hardcore roots. “State of Massachusetts” is about a mom losing custody of her kids. The Irish trad ballad “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya” is a fiery litany of the tolls of war. Their cover of Florence Reece’s “Which Side Are You On” seethed for the working class.
So it was a little galling during the quieter moments — a stripped-down cover of Johnny Thunders’s “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” (dedicated to a friend in prison); their version of “The Fields of Athenry” (dedicated to a soldier heading to Afghanistan); the rousing “Forever” (dedicated to a soldier killed in Iraq) — to see many in the crowd crowned in floppy Guinness hats, bedecked in blinking green trinkets, still howling and spilling and moshing sloppily.
There was plenty of time for that during the encore, an apocalyptic tear though “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” It was prefaced by a pre-recorded greeting by Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who’s found great success using the song as his entrance music. He doesn’t chant, “Yankees suck.” Why should we?