Having see Dropkick Murphys several times in the past I knew that seeing them tour in support of their latest album Signed and Sealed In Blood would be no exception. The venue: HMV Ritz in Manchester, a somewhat unusual venue given their past gigs at both the O2 Apollo and the Academy, however a smaller venue rarely detracts from any live music and proves only to add overall atmosphere.
First band to the stage are Cornwall's Crowns. Their blend of acoustic Folk and Punk (not dissimilar to that of Frank Turner) goes down well with the crowd, their closing track 'Full Swing' being a particular highlight.
Second band of the night are Teenage Bottlerocket, who have been making their own brand of snotty skate-punk for twelve years now; think Tony Hawks Pro Skater soundtrack and you won't be far wrong. Fitting an impressive 14 songs in to their allotted 40 minutes , including 'Skate or Die' and 'Headbanger', means their set is as fast as it is tight.
Come 9:30pm, the ever-rousing chant of 'Let's go Murphys!' has run it's course and the band take to the stage and immediately burst in to the obvious choice of 'The Boys Are Back' which whips the crowd in to a sweaty/boozey mass of bodies. Every song is sang by crowd and band alike as if it were the encore at their last ever show. New songs fit in beside the classics as if they've always been part of a set-list that, in keeping with the support, manages to fit 26 songs in to 90 minutes; something that allows them to play three quarters of their new album, whilst still including fan favourites such as 'Boys on the Docks' and 'Shipping Up To Boston' which gets quite possibly the loudest sing-a-long yet. 'Rose Tattoo' as expected was another highlight proving to be an instant classic take from Signed and Sealed...
Their encores are renowned for featuring stage invasions and tonight is no exception, with the stage being filled with fans for the whole five songs, something the security don't seem too enamoured by. 'Barroom Hero' provides another rousing sing-a-long, as does 'End of the Night', the only song taken from the new album to feature in the encore but one that is as fitting as it is predictable. Their set closes with an out of character cover of ACDC's 'Dirty Deeds Done Cheap' which is excellent.
The Murphys are a band that need to be seen to understand just how seasoned and practiced they are. They are consistently good at what they do, and they enjoy what they do. Something that's only evident when you get to see bands in venues such as this. Everyone is guaranteed to go home smiling with more than a few staggering. Good old fashioned drinking music done to a tee. And long may they carry on.
Read my album review of Signed and Sealed In Blood here.
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