Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Where I'm Coming From, Pt. 1

(This was written on my old Myspace page last October.)
It started with such a flourish.
SLF's "Alternative Ulster" and then a little Billy Bragg came over the PA system, then the first bass drum beat of "The Foggy Dew" as the lights went down. The "Let's Go Murphys!" chant was in full-throat drowning out Sinead's wispy, familiar vocals. Then it stopped, and from the right side of the stage a piper appeared, but not DKM's Scruffy Wallace, no, it was the entire Washington, DC Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Column. And I almost wore the DCFD ESP&D t-shirt I bought at the fire department fundraiser at the Channel! Anyway, the pipes were blaring through a familiar march, of which name I can't recall, then right into "Cadence to Arms" (to DKM fans- "Scotland the Brave" to all others), and I leaned over to Declan and said, "If they go into 'Do or Die' here, this may be allright..." And...."You're Spirit's Alive."They didn't play "Do or Die," or "Get Up" or damn near anything else from the debut album. They played "BOTD," and "Barroom Hero"(sans carefully selected audience participant) and "Finnegans's," of course, and threw "3rd Man In" (which I guess is their token 'old school' song for the tour, as it's appeared on every set-list I've seen from this current debacle). But they played nothing from "The Gang's all Here" except "Amazing Grace," lots from "Sing Loud," a couple from "Blackout" and worst of all, nine, count 'em Shane McGowan style "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine" songs from the new record, which, aside from Al's respectable cover of "The Green Fields of France," is an atrocity. That album made me weep for the band they used to be, and this show made we weep not only for that, but for my own getting old.I will say this for the Murphys- they have done as much for the sale of new Red Sox hats as anything Dr. Charles and the ad wizards on Yawkey have done. My God, were they out last night... and DKM shows always crack me up for the sheer number of people who violate the "Don't Wear a Shirt From the Last Tour" rule...damn close to an unofficial world record. (Kudos to Declan from reminding me of that rule...)(Incidentally, another UWR was set last night by Big D and The Kids Table for dropping the most f-bombs in a non-rap song. And not so incidentally, how have I never heard those guys? They've been around for like 10 years, and that was my first time hearing slash seeing them? Wha happened? They were freaking great..."LAX" blew me away....As I said last night, it was like Jay from the Suicide Machines fronting the Bosstones (come back, come back) with lyrics by a really pissed off Reel Big Fish.)Back to the Murphys though- here's the problem. They've gotten bigger, which isn't a problem unto itself, but Ken Casey, my God man, what's his deal? You aren't The Pogues, you never were The Pogues, and you never will be The Pogues. What you were was a really freaking awesome band whose simple arrangements, heartfelt lyrics, fist pumps, oi oi's, energy, passion and cheap t-shirts made a believer out of this cynical kid. I've seen them all over the place more times than I can remember, and every album subsequent to "DOD" has left me scratching my head a little, but still excited for the live show. No more, alas, no more. It was slick, overproduced, manipulative and predictable. I don't care if they sell a kajillion-bajillion records, or if every kid at the mall has their shirt on- that's not how I gauge a sell-out. But this band feels like a sell-out, and the worst part for them is that the return on their investment is marginal- they'll never be huge. Kudos for the charity stuff (the Sgt. Farrar cd, the Chickenman stuff) but as Jerewould say about the rest of the package, "Terrible job, Murphys." So where does that leave me? Guess I'll listen to the new DKM, which sounds a lot like the old DKM, but goes by another name- The Street Dogs.Ken, it would do you a lot of good to remember when you were a bass player for Mike McColgan, not the lead singer for the Dropkick Murphys. Terrible job, Ken.


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