Flogging Molly at the House of Blues, 2/16/13: Review

The kilts, whistles, accordions and other assorted Celtic crap were in abundance Saturday night at House of Blues, as Flogging Molly and a couple of nice opening acts brought the spirit of Ireland to the cramped confines of the House of Blues.

Dave King and the rest of Flogging Molly are fairly regular visitors to the Dallas area, but for whatever reason, a larger (as in sold out) brood was in attendance this time around. Incredibly, this large mass of sweaty, dark brew drinking, Gaelic spewing thugs remained relatively polite throughout the night.

As a matter of fact, the only boos of the night came when opening singer/songwriter Dave Hause stated he was from Philadelphia. Hause played a pretty solid set of punk-inspired tunes that were lyrically sensitive but musically lackluster. He reminded me of all the twenty and thirty-somethings that think punk started with Green Day.

Next up was London's Skinny Lister, a much more traditional outfit that engaged the crowd like few opening acts can do. With mandolins, ukuleles and concertinas at their disposal, these guys (and one gal) may have lacked a bit of punch, but they made up for it with a positivity that seemed to rub off on the crowd. After Skinny Lister's set, it was nice to see the band's merch table under siege by all the folks (including me) who were impressed by what they had heard.

And speaking of merch tables, the line for Flogging Molly's stretched out of the lobby and well into the venue. At $20 a shirt, those things were flying off the stacks. Makes one wonder why some bands charge $45 just because the venue may be bigger. Oh well.

Anyhow, at a little before 10:00, The Who's "Baba O'Reilly" came over the sound system and just about everyone in the place knew that was the signal for Flogging Molly to hit the stage.

And sure enough, when that last violin note ended, Dave King shouted, "one, two, three, four" and the audience went crazy. Beers were flying and smaller patrons were escaping the mosh pit as Flogging Molly launched into "Another Bag of Bricks."

My only complaint was that the band's full-bellied roar drowns out the violin of Bridget Regan. On CD, her playing is vital to the band's sound, but live, she is an afterthought. Regan is also King's wife, so you'd think that she would get a bit more priority from the sound guy.

But that is just one small quibble from a night filled with shouted choruses and feelings of Celtic pride. Flogging Molly played songs from just about every album the band has released, including a couple from my personal favorite: 2004's Within a Mile From Home. Both the title track and "Tobacco Road" were done with passion and power, two things that make Flogging Molly stick out among the (many) other bands who play Irish-influenced punk.

Sadly, one of the band's best songs, "Screaming at the Wailing Wall," did not make the set list this time around, but perhaps it would not have fit the happy vibe of the evening. This night was not about politics; it was about drinking beer and shouting along to songs that were instantly familiar.

At 51, Dave King slows no signs of slowing down. Like a thicker, meaner version of Elvis Costello, King has successfully made the world forget he was once a member of two of the worst metal bands the 80's had to offer: Fastway and Katmandu.

So with my shoes soaked in beer and a reasonably priced t-shirt tucked under my arm, I left the House of Blues the same way I entered it: with a smile on my face and some change in my pocket.

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