On the 26th April, 2019 fans descended to London’s exclusive internationally renowned live music venue the O2 Academy Brixton to see Celtic punk rockers Dropkick Murphys ship their way over to London town on the final sold out date of the UK tour. An evening we had all been waiting for- fans queued hours ahead of show time. It was already looking like a buzzing, unforgettable night. With support from Grade 2 and The Devil Made Three it was the perfect excuse to party on a Friday night.
First up supporting was British trio Grade 2 who made a low-key entrance and with no introduction plowed straight into set opener “Pubwatch.” The lads brought punk rock chaos to society with their captivating energetic performance of memorable riffs and tasteful solos by Jack Chatfield to an almost full to a capacity audience. Drummer Jacob Hull was on fire throughout with his intense hefty drum work. The thrilling performance by dual vocalists Sid Ryan (and bass) and Jack clearly took the crowd by storm as they cheered on. Their sound reminded me of Blur and Motorhead fused together (Blur for vocal style and Motorhead for musical style.) This was a great platform to showcase their talent and it’s safe to say these guys deserve top marks for such a blazing set!
When The Devil Makes Three hit the stage the venue was snug and full to capacity. With Lead vocalist and guitarist Pete Bernhard, Lucia Turino plucking the bass and Cooper McBean on banjo and guitar, the band immediately set the tone for the evening with folk, country, bluegrass reckless rock ‘n’ roll. The rapturous crowd stomped away to tracks “Drunken Hearted Man” and “Black Irish” and roared with drunken cheer as each song came to an end. They consistently delivered their moving sound with perfection in the live environment and set the bar high for what was about to be unleashed.
A growing buzz was building as fans gathered around for rowdy Celtic punk fellas Dropkick Murphys to make an appearance. The lights dimmed as “The Foggy Dew” (Sinéad O’Connor) played out in full only helping to build the anticipation. Suddenly the crowd burst into a roar when the curtain dropped revealing Lee Forshner on bagpipes, the band went straight into “Cadence to Arms.” As some fans retired from the ferocious pit party quite early, four songs in and the wave of crowd surfers was steady and unstoppable. Each song was met with a thunderous reception which made singers Ken Casey and Al Barr almost inaudible during one of many mass sing-a-longs for the night. All eight members (two touring members) were meticulously allocated their positions so they can be seen from all angles.
Great frontmen Ken and Al were on top form as they used every ounce of energy to work the crowd into a frenzy song after song just added to their legendary performance. In between tracks, the crowd chanted “Let’s Go Murphys” and the set reached unimaginable heights as they charged into “Rose Tattoo,” undoubtedly a fan favourite! The room was full of singing, dancing, smiling fans, and the great vibes continued to spread across the venue as the boys from Quincy made a return for the encore. As if the crowd couldn’t get any louder, they became even more boisterous during “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” the band brought numerous fans on stage for one last blowout for final the encore song “Until the Next Time.”
Dropkick Murphys delivered a spectacular show, an unmissable all-for-one environment that fed our Celtic punk appetite. All I can suggest is that you go and catch them in a city near you!
Review by Nadira Cee | All photos by Fernando Bonenfant