Dropkick Murphys Live Review From Wembley Arena, 21st January 2023

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We had the luck of the Irish on our side as we ventured across London on a sub zero Saturday night. Dropkick Murphys are in town and they have brought some punk rock friends with them. A busy night is upon us, with three support acts. Doors are promptly opened at 6pm with Jesse Adhern, an acoustic troubadour, getting the crowd in great singing form. Aussie punks The Rumjacks followed suit and slowly whipped the crowd into the frenzy, but it’s not until Pennywise set foot on the stage the crowd really warmed up.

As the Hermosa Beach natives kick off with their Fight till you die, the crowd erupts along with several circle pits. Now if you’ve seen Pennywise before you’ll have seen their stage manner, their set is equally split between fast punk rock and on stage banter. The band is in fine form for both. It isn’t until the final three tracks that the gig turns from a punk rock show to a church-like experience. As the seminal track Bro Hymn kicks in with the catchy “Woahs” the whole room is singing on behalf of the band and the sound is deafening.

7.5/10

As the clock struck 9:30pm the sounds of Sinead O’Connor and The Chieftains rang out with the haunting Irish track Foggy Dew. With dry ice covering the stage the band appears from the darkness to rapturous applause. Opening with a cover from The Fureys, it’s not until the second song The Boys Are Back where Ken Casey was jumping into the audience (something he will do in nearly every song of the set) pressing the flesh of the front row and them loving every second of it. You can say many things about the Celtic punk band but you can never say their fans are not committed. Crowd enthusiasm and awe that would put Harry Styles fans to shame. 

As the band settled into their set, Casey addressed the crowd, since they last toured the UK they have had two albums out. One of which is more of a left turn for the band. This Machine Still Kills Fascists, a record that is full of acoustic tracks using old lyrics from Woody Guthrie, and the first album to not see Al Barr (the band’s vocalist) not sing on the record. (He is currently on hiatus from the band due to family illness). 

The Dropkicks have brought an arsenal with them: confetti cannons, lasers, bagpipes. Pulling out all the stops for their European arena tour. The band does not stop to breathe motoring though hit after hit, leaving the crowd wanting more as they burn through singalongs like State of Massachusetts, Two 6s Upside Down. A special rewording of All The Fonies to ‘All The Tories, bound to lose’ has everyone in that arena screaming it back at the top of their lungs. 

However the biggest singalong of the night was another stellar cover from he Bostonians. Dirty Old Town by Ewan MaColl lifted the roof off the arena, everyone united for one mass singalong arm-in-arm, a really powerful moment for the band and its audience. Hits like Shipping Up To Boston made the arena floor vibrate from over 10,000 people jumping in unison. As the band walked off for their encore you could only imagine what more they could give.

The tracks Rose Tattoo into Workers Song with Jesse Adhern keep the fire burning on a freezing cold evening. But the cherry on top of the punk rock sundae was the set closer – Kiss Me, I’m ShitFaced. An out and out assault of the senses, the crowd going wild, confetti cannons and your ears ringing from a night of singalongs. If you ever get a chance to catch The Dropkick Murphys it is a must. They toe the line between fun and serious, heartfelt and comedic. If you like your punk with an Irish twang, this is the band for you. A nearly 2-hour set and 23 songs later we were left wanting more. 

8/10

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