Flogging Molly brought the 2019 US leg of their current world tour to the House of Blues in Boston last Friday night. It’d been roughly six years since I’d last seen them in this very same spot (and, actually, just over eighteen years since I’d first seen them in this very same spot, albeit in a much smaller club – Axis – at the time, sandwiched in between Avail and Dropkick Murphys, all of whom were supporting Mighty Mighty Bosstones but I swear I’m not bragging). If there’s one thing that can be said about Flogging Molly circa 2019, it’s that more than two decades into the Celtic punk septet’s career, their live performance remains a total and complete bombastic juggernaut.
Frontman and bandleader Dave King led his merry band of misfits — wife and violin/tin whistle player Bridget Regan, guitarist Dennis Casey, bass player Nathen Maxwell, accordion player Matt Hensley, banjo player Spencer Swain and drummer Mike Alonso — out of the gate swinging, kicking things off with crowd favorite “(No More) Paddy’s Lament” that fired the crowd up from the start, producing the first in what seemed to be a constant onslaught of crowd surfers on this particular evening. From there, the band ripped through a dozen-and-a-half tracks that proved a pretty solid, career-spanning cross-section (though nothing from 2011’s Speed of Darkness made an appearance). They’ve been playing a very similar main set throughout most of tour, with newer tracks from their most recent album, Life Is Good, peppered in throughout a series of old favorites (“Devil’s Dance Floor,” “The Likes Of You Again,” of course “Drunken Lullabies). A couple of the numerous things that made this particular night special – aside from the fired up crowd – included a “Happy Birthday” singalong to one of Dennis Casey’s sons who was in town celebrating his eleventh trip around the sun, and a couple of brief appearances from longtime friend of the band Mike McColgan of Street Dogs fame.
Primary support on this run of the tour is provided by the mighty Lucero. If you’re a frequent visitor of this here website, you’re no-doubt aware we’ve covered band quite a bit live in a variety of different formats over the last couple of years. But aside from a run through Providence, Rhode Island, with in support of Clutch a few years ago, we haven’t seem them in an opening role in a while, so the band’s forty-five minute set was a bit of a departure and seemed like it was over way too quickly. The band’s latest album, last year’s stellar Among The Ghosts, was pretty heavily represented in the set that covered about ten songs. While a Flogging Molly crowd is A) generally pretty vocal and B) very much a FLOGGING MOLLY crowd, there was more than a little bit of cross-over on this particular night. Other highlights included a merch table-side request for “Hey Darlin’ Do You Gamble” from 2009’s 1372 Overton Park, and of course Ben and Rick’s otherwise unaccompanied run-throughs of “The War” and “Loving.” While an abbreviated, less-than-freeform Lucero set is still enjoyable and poignant as hell, we’re very much looking forward to our return trip to Memphis for to catch Ben and Brian and Roy and John and Rick at this year’s Family Block Party in April.
Each show on this leg of the tour also features opening appearances from Providence, Rhode Island’s The Huntress And Holder Of Hands. Admittedly, we’d not heard THAHOH before we found out that they were opening this run, although in hindsight we were at least peripherally aware of frontwoman MorganEve Swain’s old band, Brown Bird. The “new” band formed after the death of Swain’s husband and Brown Bird collaborator Dave Lamb, and perform as a sextet featuring string bass, cello, electric bass, drums, and Swain singing while alternating between viola and electric guitar. The result is a really, genuinely interesting sound that’s equal parts haunting chamber music and post-metal and Americana; for comparison’s sake only, I guess it’s like if Murder By Death were inspired by mournful soulfulness and not, well, whiskey or space operas (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
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