For the past 16 years, Dropkick Murphys have been playing some of the best Irish punk music in America. The Boston band is always uncompromising, brash, indomitable, and full of energy and fire. In addition, they are always a lot of fun to listen to. Very few bands—in fact, only Flogging Molly comes to mind—do such a great job of mixing Celtic elements and instruments with punk style and attitude.
In March of 2011, the band released Going Out In Style, a concept CD about the life of a fictional character named Cornelius Larkin. The CD is a look back at the deceased character’s life. However, you don’t even have to pay attention to the concept to enjoy this CD.
The group has released a deluxe version, Going Out In Style: Fenway Park Bonus Edition on the band’s own label, Born and Bred Records. This version includes the original version, a Live from Fenway bonus disc recorded on the field in September 2011, as well as a download of the film of the concert, and the complete story of Cornelius Larkin, written by the band’s friend, author Michael Patrick MacDonald.
The songs on the original CD range from full-out, no-holds-barred rock to comparatively slower storytelling songs. My favorite song on the CD, “Cruel,” shows how masterfully Dropkick Murphys can mine the Celtic folk music tradition.
Tunes like “Memorial Day” and “Climbing a Chair to Bed” repeat a familiar Dropkick Murphys theme: Don’t be afraid to live and never stop fighting for a better life.
“Deeds Not Words” and “Take ‘Em Down” echo another theme: don’t take any crap from anybody, whether it’s from a liar who says one thing and does another or from the bosses that try to put you down.
Another great song on this CD is the rocking love song, “Peg O’ My Heart.” It gets an assist on vocals from none other than Bruce Springsteen, who fits in with the band very well indeed.
Two songs on this CD, “Broken Hymns” and “The Irish Rover,” are the most traditionally Irish in style. “Broken Hymns” is a battlefield lament, while “The Irish Rover” is a sped-up ballad about a ship. You can’t get much more Irish than battles and ships.
But as great as the original Going Out in Style is, the bonus Fenway Park material is far and away superior to it. Dropkick Murphys is never better than when interacting with an audience. The group feeds on the energy of the crowd and the crowd feeds on the music. It just all creates one big wave of fun, love, and enthusiasm.
At Fenway the group did most of the songs from Going Out in Style and many favorites from other days. The lineup of songs is similar to what they performed at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, March 6, 2012, which I reviewed here on Blogcritics.
This one, though, is even more of an outpouring of love for Boston, and includes such treats as “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” (with guests The Mighty Mighty Bosstones) an extended acoustic set which includes “Boys on the Docks,” “The Dirty Glass,” “The State of Massachusetts,” and more. The incredible closing number is a blistering cover of AC/DC’s “T.N.T.”
Altogether, the bonus disc adds 18 songs to the collection, for a total of 31 great songs. The addition of the download of the filmed version of the concert makes this an amazing deal for any Dropkick Murphys fan. The set carries a very reasonable retail price, leaving little reason for any fan to miss this set.