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Dropkick Murphys kick off three-night stand at HOB

Posted by Michael Brodeur  March 17, 2011 02:11 PM

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Jim Davis

Vocalist Al Barr of the Dropkick Murphys leans in for some love from the HoB crowd.

With: Against Me, Off With Their Heads, and Parkington Sisters,
At: House of Blues, Wednesday, House of Blues. Repeated Thursday and Friday

For 90 minutes Wednesday night, the Dropkick Murphys made all seem right in the world. Friends and family members joyously cavorted. A wedding engagement was sealed. The underdogs won the fight in song after song, and the sloppy drunk copped a kiss or two.

Such was the scene at the House of Blues, where the Dropkicks opened a three-night stand that wraps up Friday. The Dropkicks' annual St. Patty's jaunt also hits Lowell Saturday and heads back to Boston Sunday for a fundraiser at the Paradise. All of it sold out in advance

The Dropkick Murphys still have the punchy energy of a street-punk band, yet the septet has settled into the role of ambassador of all things blue-collar Boston. Over the past 15 years, the band has warped the punk ideal of community into something a bit more wholesome and friendly; name another punk band that can safely feature young, curly haired step dancers on stage.

The Dropkicks augmented their sound throughout the set with the strings and voices of the Parkington Sisters, a quintet of folk traditionalists. DKM's Ken Casey joined the sisters during their ethereal opening set for a reading of "Dirty Old Town," and Nora Parkington returned the favor by taking the female lead on "The Dirty Glass" during the main show.

After a punk-rock twofer courtesy of Off With Their Heads and Against Me, the banjos, bagpipes, accordions, fiddles, guitars, bass and drums were blazing for the DKM's opening "Hang 'Em High," one of several songs featured from the band’s new album, "Going Out in Style." Standouts from that disc included the empowering "Memorial Day," reflective "Cruel," and raucous title track, each a solid defense against claims that the Dropkicks are formulaic.

The band does play to type, though, celebrating its Irish-American heritage and working-class roots. "The Fields of Athenry" (which was preceded by an on-stage wedding proposal) and "The Irish Rover" were nods to tradition, and "Take 'Em Down" and "Worker's Song" formed a labor-movement suite.

Though emcee Casey made the show feel like a family gathering, the band didn’t lose sight of the business at hand, whipping up plenty of frenzies, such as "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," "Captain Kelly's Kitchen" and "Skinhead on the MBTA."

Scott McLennan can be reached at

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Sarah Rodman is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.

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