Fists are pounding tables, hands are clapping and a chorus of “Let’s go Murphys!” is ringing out from the pubs that line the streets of Brixton. Shamrocks, Strongbow and skeletal pirates are a common sight tonight, as hordes of black-clad punks in all shapes and sizes gear themselves up for the Celtic Invasion tour. The capital is brimming with lingering St Patrick’s Day euphoria, Ireland have just claimed the rugby title and Boston’s very own Dropkick Murphys will soon be taking to the stage of Brixton Academy.
Rougher than a scrum and as dirty as Shane MacGowan’s molars, Dropkick Murphys pack a mean punch with their growling Celtic punk; an electrifying blend of traditional Irish music torn to shreds with heavy drums and ferocious guitars.
“Out of Our Heads", from 2013’s Signed and Sealed in Blood, sets the tone – and mantra – for the rest of the night, as over the course of twenty-sevens songs from over eight albums, the crowd are insane. The mosh pit burst in to life at the off, and remained a living breathing force throughout. Fan favourites “I’m Shipping Up To Boston”, “Rose Tattoo” and “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya” were met with drunken, glorious cheers, whilst the Murphys tradition of the stage-invading girls during “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced” solicited loud singalongs, waving arms and high flying pints.
Whether they were playing an original, an old Irish rebel song or a well-recognised cover, The Murphys made sure that there was something for everyone. Marking the location for the show, they first gave a blistering rendition of the Clash’s “Guns Of Brixton”, followed shortly by AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”. The final cover of the night – the show closer – was a good old knees-up; an appropriately raucous rendition of Sham 69’s optimistic belter “Kids Are United”.
The showmanship of dual frontmen Tim Brennan and Al Barr is electrifying, and the onstage camaraderie mimics the love felt in the pit below them. Adding to the crazed throng, canons fired green and white confetti into the auditorium, covering sweaty naked torsos or being snatched up, Crystal Maze style, by euphoric fans.
With nearly twenty years under their studded belts, The Dropkick Murphys are undoubtedly the kings of the Celtic punk scene, and tonight they showed everyone exactly why.