Flogging Molly House of Blues Sunday, March 4
Sunday night's Flogging Molly show more or less served as the triumphant closing ceremony for what might have been the most Irish-intensive week in recent Metroplex history. Last Monday, Boston shamrockers Dropkick Murphys kicked things off, while the North Texas Irish Festival held down its place over the weekend. By the time the L.A.-based Flogging Molly finished their rambunctious set on Sunday night, most Irish eyes were certainly smiling, even if they were bloodshot and perhaps a bit blackened.
Lead Molly Dave King, being the consummate party-starter, made a quick point to skip any sort of slow rolling opening. After walking onto the stage as Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer's version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" played, the seven-piece outfit's offerings of "Drunken Lullabies" and "Requiem for a Dying Song" whipped the crowd into a predictable, well-deserved frenzy.
Sure, there was a certain amount of predictability present through the night, but such isn't a bad thing. What's not to like in knowing that a band is going to deliver the goods? The tin whistle and fiddle, played by King's wife, Bridget Regan, not to mention Bob Schmidt's mandolin and banjo and King's charming accent, made sure each song had the proper dose of bracing Emerald Isle breezes blowing through the room.
The serene "Whistles the Wind" saw a massive, swaying arm-locked crowd replace mosh pits for a few minutes and "Say A Prayer For Me in Silence," with Regan handling singing duties, was a welcome acoustic respite. Tunes such as "Float," the one-percent-hating "The Power's Out" and especially "Black Friday Rule," which was only complete after lead guitarist Dennis Casey provided a Sonic Youth-esque flourish of squalor, brought the Guinness-filled weekend to an end more akin to a fighter jet landing on an aircraft carrier.
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King wasn't afraid to draw out a few boos from the crowd either. Before kicking into "Oliver's Boys (All of Our Boys)," he threw out the name of the Irish's historical arch-enemy, Oliver Cromwell. Later, he tried introducing a hitch-hiking fan from Manchester, England, only to be showered with boos yet again. As each tune presented its own swelling chorus, rousing sing-along and fist-pumping conclusion, it's as if Flogging Molly's mission was to make sure they aren't performing mere Irish ditties, but offering up anthems with each and every four-minute interval. As the set neared its conclusion, King and company brought out the big guns of "Rebels of the Sacred Heart," "If I Ever Leave This World Alive" and "What's Left of the Flag."
Earlier in the set, Cali-based acoustic-folk-punkgrass trio The Devil Makes Three held the spotlight of an already-packed room. Vocalist Pete Bernhard, stand-up bassist Lucia Turino and banjo/guitar player Cooper McBean handled the room with every bit of confidence and whimsy as the more experienced headliner. Touring behind their excellent new live album, the tatted-up threesome gave their set a ragtime veneer that felt natural. Harmonies and guitar work Django Reinhardt would be proud of highlighted a couple of tunes, especially "For Good Again." As McBean worked his banjo for "Aces and Twos," it was clear the punks had come from the mountain that night.
Personal bias: As with last week's Dropkick Murphys show, I've got the blood of the Irish pumping through me, and I appreciate FM's ability to blend traditional Celtic sounds with modern American punk.
Random note: The first opening band, Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss, were engaging enough to make me find their album on iTunes. Good stuff from a couple of dudes that have been around the block more than a few times. The grizzled duo had tunes that were simultaneously burlap-rough and supremely graceful.