Travis Failey on March 10, 2017
By the time the doors opened at the House of Blues at Disney Springs, the line stretched outside of the snaking queue and around the complex.
The Dropkick Murphys were in town, and it seemed like everyone knew it. Instead of families pushing crying babies in their Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts, the whole scene was crowded with green-clad punk rockers.
Like a traveling soccer team, the Murphys bring a unique energy and culture to their shows, ensuring a packed house at nearly every stop. Everyone was Irish for the night as the Celtic rockers found refuge in sunny Orlando.
Blood or Whiskey
This ensemble of Irish-themed talent never got closer to the Emerald Isle than with Blood or Whiskey, a Celtic/punk group from Dublin.
They warmed up the crowd, getting them in the spirit with their catchy songs that resembled pub chants. Highlights included “Dirty Aul War” a ska-fusion track that incorporated an Irish flute with plenty of dancing onstage. The slow, somber “I wish I was back home in Derry” which brought notes from the Irish’s struggle with British rule.
Their most fun song of the night was “Poxy Pub”, which had the crowd moshing and singing along to the fun chorus. Friends embraced and bodies flew as the already-full house raised their Guinnesses.
Blood or Whiskey was a fun show, especially for an opening act. Though they knew going in that the crowd was there to see Dropkick, they did a great job of incorporating the audience and making everyone feel at home.
For the next stop on this show’s international ensemble came The Interrupters from Los Angeles.
Their act was interesting, with three brothers in matching clothes on instruments and the charismatic Aimee Allen (stage name Aimee Interrupter) on vocals.
More of a ska act than anything, they brought an upbeat, positive note to the middle of the show. The Interrupters’ most known song is “Take Back the Power”, which made its way into a Verizon commercial last year.
It’s one of those songs that you find yourself singing along to despite not being able to pinpoint where it’s from. They played it early, and the whole house found itself singing along.
The Joan Jett-esque vocals of Allen rang through the building as she sang “She Got Arrested”. Her stage presence was lighthearted and fun, which contrasted nicely with The Interrupters’ lyrics of political upheaval.
The Interrupters were a unique act, especially appearance-wise, and they provided a break from the liquor-soaked merrymaking of Blood or Whiskey. Their act was fun, and while there wasn’t much moshing, the ska style made them fit right in.
As I looked around the House of Blues while waiting for the Murphys to take the stage, it seemed less like a band, and more like a festival in a box.
Fans were pouring out of every imaginable crevasse of the venue, waving hands, phones, Celtics’ jerseys, and anything they could grab in anticipation of the headlining act.
They took the stage with “The Boys Are Back”, and the whole venue exploded with energy. Instantly, frontman Al Barr jumped into the crowd and embraced the awaiting hordes while shredding guitar riffs and bagpipes rang out from behind him.
Their 19-song setlist was full of heavy-hitters from across a musical career that spans over 20 years at this point. The crowd sang along passionately with such hits as “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ya”, “State of Massachusetts”, “Blood”, and “Rose Tattoo”.
The Murphy’s also played a bevy of covers, including the Cars’ “Just What I Needed” and CCR’s “Fortunate Son”.
The crowd atmosphere was among the most intense I’ve seen at the HOB, as nearly every song had a mosh pit. Dropkick had a ton of fun with the crowd as well and made the show feel like more than just another stop on the tour.
One of these moments came when a young girl was brought on stage to sing the female parts from “The Dirty Glass”. It was a heartwarming scene as she interacted with both vocalists, turning a song about drinking and debauchery into an adorable one.
This contrast was very interesting: a band of tough guys from Boston that have grown up to be family men, and their fans have done the same. The mosh pit was lively and raucous, but scattered around the venue were parents and small kids that will grow up to be Dropkick fans one day.
The best part of the set however, was the unexpected ending. It was no surprise that the encore would be “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” from the movie “The Departed”, but it wasn’t the final song.
When that song ended, the band called up a huge crowd of people onto the stage to sing “Until the Next Time”. With the whole crowd singing along, confetti poured from the ceiling with the band members embracing fans as they sang. It was a really powerful moment between a band and the people that love them so much.
Seeing the Dropkick Murphys was such a fun experience because every member of the crowd, as well as every band member on stage was so engaged. Their songs are catchy and fun, the atmosphere is joyful and their fans wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world.
Overall it was a great experience. If you are familiar with the Dropkick Murphys or not, I’d definitely suggest checking them out on this tour but don’t be surprised if you are craving corned beef and cabbage after the show.
For tour dates and other info: http://www.dropkickmurphys.com/tour/