You can hear the chants of ‘LETS GO MURPHYS’ ringing through Brixton Academy even before a single note has been played. An air of anticipation masks the smell of spilled pints and not a single person is wearing a frown. It seems folk punk’s most famous sons have rolled into the capital for another night of debauchery. With a new album to boot and a sold out room to play it to, we best get stuck in then.
As you look around the absolutely rammed room, something becomes blindingly clear. When it comes down to it a Dropkick Murphys show is less about the music and more about the community that thrives at it. Every shape, size and style of fan is out in force tonight and every single one of them is immediately your friend. Hipflasks of throat burning whisky are passed from the front to the back of the room, letting everyone share in its delicious warmth while people who have only just met chat away and hold each other like they’ve been the closest of acquaintances for years. This level of togetherness is what the Murphys have stood for all through their 20 year career. They understand how powerful an idea punk rock is and have used it to their advantage to create the sort of anthems that represent more than just guitars and drums. With everything considered, this is the biggest party of the year.
The Murphys sound may have changed from the rough around the edges angst of ‘The Gangs All Here’ to the more considered sentimentality found on their later albums, that doesn’t stop them from pulling off a career spanning set of the highest caliber. ‘The State Of Massachusetts’ sits neatly beside the brilliant chaos of ‘Going Out In Style’ while the impassioned ‘Paving My Way’ stands side by side with the frantic ‘Your Spirits Alive’. The energy pulsing through the room is emphatic. No pair foot is rooted to the floor as friends old and new mosh, sway, dance, jig, embrace and sing till their throats give way. The band feed off the devotion and love of the jam packed room before them and move around the stage like a group 15 years their junior.
It’s within the confines of the encore that the party really starts though. The stage fills with more and more merry faces as the room joins together for a slurred rendition of ‘Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced’ and as a jubilant 1-2 of ‘Skinhead On The MBTA’ and ‘Until The Next Time’ brings things to a close you cant even see the band for the amount of bodies on the stage. It sums up the mood of this evening perfectly. There’s no posing here. No pretense. Everything is genuine and pure. Nobody is embarrassed by how sweaty their shirt is or how bad their dancing looks. What the Dropkick Murphys have created across their career is a safe space for the misfits and cretins of the world to come and be themselves, something that is often forgotten by many bands. Long may it continue.
Words by Jack Rogers (@JackMRog)