DROPKICK MURPHYS / THE DEVIL MAKES THREE / GRADE 2 - O2 Academy, Glasgow 22.04.19
I first saw ‘DKM’ on their first major U.K tour around 1997 and I was hooked.
The mix of Celtic influenced music gave the band a unique sound, sort of like dipping an old sea shanty into a bucket of good old fashioned punk rock! The blend of bagpipes, accordions, banjos and guitar and drums, along with the dual rasping lead vocals of Ken Casey and Al Barr give the band its distinctive and unforgettable sound.
Hailing from Quincy Massachusetts, the band have risen through the ranks to establish themselves as the forerunners of the genre, standing alongside their contemporaries; The Pogues and Flogging Molly. It’s not often these days you get bootleggers touting tour T-shirts outside, but there were a couple of guys pacing up and down selling shirts for £10. As tempting as this might be, I’d urge fans to buy official merchandise. #BuyTheMerch
The word ‘gig’ does not really do the performance that DKM put on any justice. From the offset, the band had high energy and didn’t hold back. They jumped straight in and kept the performance running at the same momentum for the entire show. I’d say when the DKM play it’s an enriching experience as opposed to just another gig or concert. However, before I get to that, let’s go back to the start
GRADE 2 are the first of two support acts for tonight’s show. Formed in 2013, these three lads hail from Isle of Wight and are signed to Contra Records. They took to the stage with energy and a sound that’s reminiscent of the U.K.82 movement; playing a mixture of Punk and Oi style songs. I was impressed by these guys who made the Glasgow audience take notice. I’m sure they will have gained a good few fans that night, based on the chatter I heard around about me.
Next up were THE DEVIL MAKES THREE, formed in 2001 in Santa Cruz, California. They played a mixture of Bluegrass, Country, Folk, Blues, Ragtime, Rockabilly and Punk. I’m always a sucker for a band who play an upright bass! I’ve heard this band before and knew what to expect and looked forward to their performance as I adore their playing style and sound. THE DEVIL MAKES THREE produced the goods and steamrolled through their set playing with impeccable accuracy and and style. Their sound is fresh and it’s great to hear bands like this coming to Glasgow.
A lone piper emerged shrouded in black, due to the absence of light and silhouetted by a solitary white wash from behind him which gave an eerie beginning to the set. Then without further ado, the rest of DROPKICK MURPHYS blasted onto stage and the crowd went wild as they broke into ‘The Boys are Back’.
From the first note played right to the last, these guys kicked Glasgow’s ass, in a good way!
I was standing in the pit eyeing up the makeshift stage adaption, working out how far the band will encroach from the usual sanctuary of the stage, out to the audience. I knew this was going to be an interesting evening; I’d need to make sure my head did not become a stepping stone for the DKM to use to get to the standing plate attached to the audience barrier. Too late! The stage lights exploded in washes of colour and before I knew it, I felt Ken Casey brush past my head as he lunged from the stage, across the ‘netherzone’ that is the pit, where he stood blasting out lyrics to the delight of the crowd. This unorthodox, alternative stage position afforded some great photographic opportunities.
As alluded to, the vantage point I had gave for a different and unique perspective for my photos, one that’s probably not going to be repeated any time soon. The lighting was pretty good for Glasgow too. I’m pretty critical about venue lighting, so I was pleased that careful thought and consideration had been put into the lighting. I’m sure the band only played two songs before I was tapped on the shoulder and invited to leave the pit.
I felt robbed but having a super long lens, I stood quietly at the side out of everyone’s way and continued to shoot from the side. I’m glad I did as I captured some great shots including an intimate moment between two fans. Ken Casey brought a young couple on stage and told the audience they were friends of his from Greece. As I was wondering where this was going, the man said a few words in English and went down on one knee. The audience gasped as he produced a ring and asked the woman for her hand in marriage. I snapped away and manage to get some shots of the proposal. The crowd cheered and whooped when she said yes! They hugged, Ken hugged them both and I had a tear in my eye! It was beautiful, what a memorable event to tell their grandchildren about. They also have the photos to show them due to the fact I’m ‘punk rock’ and don’t take orders from anyone! Ah...So that was the highlight for me.
DROPKICK MURPHYS played an outstanding show in Glasgow. The music was amazing, they had great support acts and overall it was a fantastic night. Come back soon boys!
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