Whatever you think of the Grateful Dead, you have to respect the admiration they inspired with their music. People gave up on all other ambitions to follow them around the country.
Likewise, whatever preconceptions you might have about the California band Flogging Molly, seeing the dedication of their fans at last night's concert at Revolution Live would force you to listen to them with fresh ears. At their best, Flogging Molly's recorded music is soulful hardcore pub music. At its worst, they sound like a generic Warped Tour band with an Irish accent.
But I figured the army of fans dressed in green who waited in line to get into the concert a full hour before the first opening band took the stage couldn't all be wrong.
First though, they were greeted by David Hause. Armed only with his guitar, his earnestness, and his Canadian tuxedo of jeans and a matching denim jacket. Hause was inspired by the protest music of Billy Bragg and Joe Strummer, but he was most reminiscent of Rick Springfield. On three different occasions, I thought he was going into a rendition of "Jessie's Girl" only to get fooled each time.
Next came Skinny Lister who were a terrible opener. Terrible because of their greatness, and thus an impossible act to follow. This five piece of guitar, upright bass, mandolin, and an accordion were centered by singer Lorna Thomas.
Thomas, wearing modern clothes, had the hair and energy of a 1920s flapper. She brought out a two gallon jug which she constantly swigged from (I assume the contents were alcoholic, though I have no proof of this except that she did pass the jug to members of the audience who drank from it like it was an adult beverage). The band brought a showmanship that was impossible to refuse. If you think you have seen it all, watching a man crowd surf with his six foot upright bass will rob you of any cynicism.
Finally came Flogging Molly. I thought the house was packed for Skinny Lister, but suddenly there was even less room. The Who's "Baba O'Riley' played on the speakers, and as the song crescendoed with the words "teenage wasteland" the house lights dimmed, a banner unleashed the logo of Flogging Molly, and out walked six men and one woman.
Again there was a unique mixture of instrumentation with a banjo, a fiddle, and accordion, along with the more traditional guitar, bass, and drums. Singer Dave King self assuredly belted out the tunes.
My problem with Flogging Molly is their songs all sound like the same punk song mixed with traditional Celtic gimmicks. But my opinion was the minority as an intense mosh pit took hold on the floor in front of the stage. The crowd was enamored with every tune. When King introduced a song from their first album, Selfish Man they roared. When Bridget Regan soloed on her fiddle, the ground shook, and when police lights strobed during the song "The Power's Out," a hundred plastic cups were thrown in the air along with whatever liquids and cubes of ice they contained.
The only part of their set that did not hold the audience's complete attention was the acoustic portion when many shaven headed, shirtless sweaty moshers walked toward the bar to replenish their alcohol.
Hearing Flogging Molly with an open mind, I am still uncertain how they inspire such passion, but godspeed and God bless all those that dig them. I'll save that enthusiasm for Skinny Lister.
"Another Bag of Bricks"
"Heart of the Sea"
"Kilburn High Road"
"Saints and Sinners"
"Requiem for a Dying Song"
"The Power's Out"
"Present State of Grace"
"Prayer for Me in Silence"
"The Lightning Storm"
"Devil's Dance Floor"
"So Sail On"
"Within a Mile of Home"
"What's Left of the Flag"
"Seven Deadly Sins"
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