There are some punk shows where you’re more or less guaranteed to have a good time. Rancid always deliver a good craic, NOFX are ever-entertaining, but few come close to the camaraderie and fist-pumping pride that the Dropkick Murphys can inspire, as they demonstrated with aplomb at Camden’s Roundhouse.
It’s the penultimate stop in the UK before the band heads back for a St Patrick’s tour in the US, and it’s been a while since they played London, evidenced by the sheer volume of people that have turned out to see them and their supports – The Bouncing Souls and The BibleCode Sundays – for the not-insignificant ticket price of £20. With the package taken as a whole, though, it was more than worth the cover charge.
The BibleCode Sundays – formerly, Slainte – are one of those dependable, reliable and enjoyable acts that never seem to quite get the acclaim they deserve, despite the fact that they’re everywhere at the moment. Any veteran of Reading’s London Irish will have crossed over with them at some point, as well as any infrequent denizen of Soho’s Waxy O’Connors, but seeing them at a venue such as The Roundhouse is a different beast. Granted, they played to a filling room, but their individual folky-rock mix went down well among those who arrived for it, and frontman Ronan MacManus earns points for manfully playing through a broken string in the last song of the set.
The Bouncing Souls, long of Nineties skate-punk fame, delivered a professional set with a devastating sound and uproarious reception for their finishing song, crowd-pleaser ‘True Believers’. Perhaps a bit more interaction with the crowd wouldn’t have gone amiss, but their record-perfect performance deserves nothing but praise.
Finally, The Dropkick Murphys. They’re a band where you know what you’re going to get – a mix of old classics with some newer songs built in, as well as the obligatory girls-on-stage finale for ‘Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced’, but it never gets old. ‘Skinhead on the MBTA’ was a raucously delivered encore, and with the notable absence of ‘The Dirty Glass’ discounted, their set had something for everyone. Energetic, vitalised and frenetic – particularly during the crescendo moment where the backdrop turned pirate for ‘Shipping Up To Boston’ – it was 40-odd minutes of pure, unadulterated talent at work.
Many bands can claim as large a fanbase as the Murphys, it seems, but very few have the adroit ability to deliver with such precision and effect as they can on stage.
Words: James Rundle