Show Review: Celtic Punk Invasion: Dropkick Murphys, The Mahones, Blood or Whiskey and Bryan McPherson

The Celtic Punk Invasion Tour swung into the Capital Region of New York, Monday March 2nd for the first date in the US after returning from Europe. The venue was the Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park and you could probably guess the audience was literally green with enthusiasm.

The opening act was also a class act, Bryan McPherson who opened for the European leg of the tour and will stay on the US tour until March 12th. Unfortunately the crowd was so enormous outside of the venue that even with press credentials it took a while to get through the door; this resulted in me not capturing any photos of McPherson but I did catch the entire set and I was thoroughly impressed. Take my word for it he was a handsome guy, sorry I don’t have any pics to prove it. But most importantly Bryan’s musicianship was second to none and he captivated a rowdy crowd of revelers with only his voice and an acoustic guitar.

Blood or Whiskey from Dublin and Kildare, Ireland took the stage next and it was so sweet to finally get to see them live. I have been a fan for nearly 15 years. While producing a radio show I stumbled upon a 4 track almost demo-ish in appearance CD by the band. I gave the CD some air play and then I took it home. Ever since I have been a loyal fan but this was my first chance to see them in action. Blood or Whiskey delivered even though they didn’t play my favorite song “Sober Again”, I forgive them. Maybe they only play that song after the St. Paddy’s season has ended, which would make sense.

When The Mahones took stage they’re presence was remarkable. Lead singer Finny McConnell at one point looked like an actual leprechaun, it was the green light hitting his body and illuminating his outfit and hat but there’s no way I was the only one that saw it. The Mahones have been around since 1990 which was probably about the year a quarter of the crowd was born but the band continues to do what they do best and entertain audiences old and young. Katie “Kaboom” McConnell was hands down the one performer that evening that you could not take your eyes off of. It wasn’t just because women who play the accordion are extra-sexy but it was just the way she becomes entranced with her instrument when she plays and dances. If you haven’t had a chance to see The Mahones live over the past 25 years what’s your excuse?

Well when the stage gets dark and “The Foggy Dew” begins to play you know you are in for it. One by one, the Murphys began to make an entrance, grabbing their instruments and taking their positions. At this point you can only see the silhouettes of their Irish caps but as the lights brightened the festivities resumed. The first song they played was Out of our Heads and as for the next few songs I had crowd surfers falling on my head while I was in the photo pit. Hey, what do you expect it’s a Dropkick show; everyone’s excited.

The crowd chanted along to favorites like Rose Tattoo, Going Out In Style and of course the theme song to every modern-day Irish mobster movie you can think of but what was unexpected was the invite for fans to pick songs of their choice for the band to play no matter how unrehearsed or polished. Eurotrash a 1997 release was not only requested by a fan but the band brought the fan on stage to sing his request. I thought he did a pretty-damn good job.

Anti-Spoiler Alert: Well I wont give away the entire show but you know there was an encore after eager fans repeatedly chanted “let’s go Murphys”. The band came out and played two favorites while inviting fans on stage to join in. Fans love this tradition and security must love it too. All in all it was a hell of a show!

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