Dropkick Murphys with support from Jesse Ahern, The Rumjacks & Pennywise, 18th January 2023 – O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester

One thing you can be sure of, these guys sure did it their way, and what an awesome show that was. My first time seeing this band, and not the last, a fantastic night with all 4 bands putting on stellar performances.
Words & Pictures: Ange Cobham / Cobspix Photography
 
My second gig of the year and yet another night lined up of brilliant live music. I’ve not been to O2 Victoria Warehouse for a while before this year, and this was my second time here in a week! I am personally a fan of this venue with its exposed brick and original beams, yet it receives a few bad reviews, I’ll never understand that. 
I get down there early, and set up thinking first band is 7pm. I was surprised to see the lights dim at 6:45 for the opener;
 

Jesse Ahern

 
A folk singer/songwriter from Quincy, Massachusetts, Jesse put on a brilliant acoustic show for the eager fans getting there early. There were already a small group of dancers in the crowd enjoying Jesse’s set of catchy acoustic tracks just him, guitar and harmonica. I was very glad I got there early to see Jesse perform his soulful set, which resonated with working class, life struggles and family that everyone is familiar with. I really enjoyed it, please get there early if you’ve got Dropkick Murphys tickets, it’s well worth it.

The Rumjacks

The next band were The Rumjacks who clearly brought a good fan following as the cheers for their stage entrance was very loud. The 6-piece Australian Celtic Punk band from Sydney launched into their setlist starting with ‘One For The Road’ and ‘Kirkintilloch’ Having not heard them before, I was already liking their Celtic Folk sound that had a good punk punch to it. Lead vocalist Mike Rivkees had a great stage presence coupled with his gritty vocals and strong pennywhistle backing performances, gave the band a good mix and twist of music for the diverse listener. Backed by bassist Johnny McKelvey, guitarists Gabe Whitbourne and Adam Kenny and drummer Pietro Fella Sala, these guys are out to prove that they are more than traditional Celtic punk rock. Live they are bolstered further by Kyle Goyette playing the accordion who can normally be found playing for Boston band Mickey Rickshaw.
 
 ‘A Fistful Of Roses’ saw the crowd dancing along and joining in with the lyrics which were simple to follow yet anthemic. ‘Bullhead’ was a foot tapping beer swilling song, lots more dancing from the crowd.
 
They sailed through the rest of their set including ‘Hestia’ the title track of their fifth studio album. They ended on one of the bands best known songs, the aptly named ‘An Irish Pub Song’ which rounded off their set nicely to a huge applause. They’re certainly on my playlist now, I thought they were brilliant and should be further up the bill. I caught up with them at the merch stall for a chat and they posed for a couple of band shots for me. Lovely set of guys. If you like The Clash and the Pogues, then check these out, they’re a good helping of both!

Pennywise

Next band are 3 decades on from their DIY beginnings and are still treading the boards of Hardcore punk rock fame. It’s Californian 4-piece Pennywise. Their set was full of raw, unfiltered political skate punk tracks including covering themes of positive mental attitude and unity, these guys were just right to warm up the Dropkick Murphys crowd. Frontman Jim Lindberg was energetic from the off delivering strong tracks including ‘Fight Till You Die’ ‘My Own Country’ and ‘My Own Way’ you sense some heartfelt emotion with hints of aggression in his delivery.
 
Classics such as ‘Same Old Story’ and ‘Fuck  Authority’ were well received by the die Hard fans at the front. Tearing through their political set guitarist Fletcher Dragge, bassist Randy Bradbury and drummer Bryon McMackin together with Jim had the crowd roaring, and a steady flow of crowd surfers. A great rendition of ‘Ben E King’s Stand By Me was played, with the opening choruses soft and chilled breaking into a punk style chorus.
 
The crowd were jumping around joining into this. Rounding off their set was another classic ‘Bro Hymn’ The band were on top form and certainly warmed up the crowd ready for the main act.

Dropkick Murphys

The lights dropped and loud cheers boomed around the venue as the crowd anticipated the main band’s entrance. Building the atmosphere was the sound of “Foggy Dew” ringing around the venue, which is performed by The Chieftains and Sinead O’Connor who’s amazing vocals were very fitting to the stage setting which was candlelit including crosses, skulls and statues of the Virgin Mary. The guys appeared on stage one by one starting with the bagpipe player at the back who played the fist few bars of the opener. The crowd were loud now as the band kicks their set off with ‘The Lonesome Boatman’ shortly followed by ‘The Boys Are Back’. Lead singer Ken Casey was bouncing about and walking up and down the full length of the stage. I could see from the energy in the room that it was going to be a lively set! Ken was up against the barrier a lot rounding up the crowd and fist pumping the rowdy front bunch. ‘The State Of Massachusetts’ and ‘Good As Gold’ continued the high tempo set with the band careering across stage with their instruments joining in with the high energy vibes. Guitarist Tim Brennan frequented the front displaying his guitar and banjo playing skills and encouraging the crowd to get louder. The start of ‘Middle Finger’ saw the crowd joining in holding up their middle fingers as they salute the song about railing against the world. I was made up when the opening bars of the next song was played as its my favourite track. ‘Two 6’s Upside Down’ This acoustic edgy track is from DKM’s latest album “This Machine Still Kills Fascists” which is a genius album which brings Woody Guthrie’s perennial jabs at life from 40’s/50’s into the present day.

‘All You Fonies’ also from this album saw the tempo being cranked back up along with the crowd energy. The lyrics were changed to ‘All you Tories’ as it was dedicated to the  strikers on the picket lines, along with ‘Workers Song’ of which Casey was joined onstage by the lead singer of “The Rumjacks” Mike Rivkee to deliver a fantastic performance.

The crowd clearly loved this and a steady stream of crowd surfers kept it alive as the setlist continued to produce bangers such as ‘Turn Up That Dial’ and ‘The Chosen Few’ Another from the bands new album saw ‘Cadillac Cadillac’ and another of my highlights ‘Never Git Drunk No More’ saw guest singer introduced to stage “Jaime Wyatt” with her amazing vocals to join Casey on this well known song. The crowd were bouncing and joining in with all the bands songs and proved they still pull the crowds after 27 years on the scene. ‘Barroom Hero’ was performed by the event opener “Jesse Ahern” together with his acoustic guitar was a treat. ‘Dirty Old Town’ an early song from DKM’s and a crowd pleaser followed by ‘I’m Shipping Up To Boston’ saw the close to this part of their set, but not the end. Crowd were roaring and chanting for them to come back, of course they did and to perennial favourite ‘Rose Tattoo’ with the electricity being turned up further. ‘The Dirty Glass’ saw “Jaime Wyatt” join in once again, ‘Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced” which crowd sang at the top of their voices. The show was rounded off with’ My Way’ by Frank Sinatra.

One thing you can be sure of, these guys sure did it their way, and what an awesome show that was. My first time seeing this band, and not the last, a fantastic night with all 4 bands putting on stellar performances.

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Photo Credit: Ange Cobham / Cobspix Photography

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