Dropkick Murphys kick some Portland ass

I first heard about “this really cool Irish punk band” about two years ago. My buddy had never been wrong before so I trudged to the record store and begrudgingly paid $15 for The Dropkick Murphys’ The Gang’s All Here.

I popped the disc in my CD player and was immediately greeted by bagpipes and punk music. I was hooked. A punk version of “Amazing Grace” made me a fan.”Roll Call” and “The Gang’s All Here” are other highlights that sing about camaraderie and friendship. Strong vocals and fast guitar and bass riffs made this album rock.

There was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to see this group live. They had to wail.

Pine Street Theater was packed. Fans were pumped up, sporting Murphy shirts and ready to rock.

The energy was high, lots of tall people and no beer garden were the only two bummers. Lars Frederiksen and His Bastards were an excellent opening act. The Bastards is Lars’ side project, as he is the mohawked guitarist and vocalist of Rancid.

At first I wasn’t sure about ol’ Lars, but he is fun. He messed with the crowd, and has lost his tough punk boy image of years past. A good performer, he was all over the stage and was sporting some good tunes that were not Rancid rip-offs, I am happy to say.

“To Have and Have Not” was my favorite, a ballad about life that featured Lars and his guitar. Lars also filled in that night for the Murphys’ guitarist, James Lynch, who had an injured arm.

The Murphys came on like a bat out of hell. They kicked ass and took some names. “Forever,” “The Gang’s All Here” and “The Guantlet” were the highlights. It was refreshing to hear some slower tunes and quite a bit of Celtic flare with bagpipes and a flute. The vocals were a bit rougher live, but they still made for a good show.

The crowd went nuts and fed right into the Murphys’ hands. Some tough boys from the East coast, The Dropkick Murphys had a lot of fun that night and so did I. Their new album, Sing Loud Sing Proud features “Forever” and “The Guantlet,” which are great songs.

So, if you are looking for something a little different, upbeat and definitely a lot of fun with an edge to it, check out The Dropkick Murphys. Live or on CD, they are definitely a band worth knowing.