The Return of Celtic Punk Legends Dropkick Murphys: Their New Sound and Outlook on Life

Photo courtesy of Jay Westcott Photography

Bostonian legends Dropkick Murphys paid a visit to the tail-end of the Northeast Corridor this past October 25th, treating their audience to a concert experience unlike any of their previous shows. Gone were the days of suffocating mosh pits and sticky floors; their unique genre-bending performance was seated in the historic rows of the Lincoln Theater. 

The Dropkick Murphys’ recently-released acoustic album, This Machine Still Kills Fascists, is an exceptional collaboration with the late Woody Guthrie, with lyrics stemming from their vast archives of unused material. While much of the show consisted of songs from this new album, the group wove in multiple acoustic re-imaginings of songs from their street punk roots, such as iconic “Barroom Hero,” from their 1998 debut album Do or Die, without losing any of its original intensity. Some tracks, like “Worker’s Song”, transitioned from the electric studio version to an acoustic live version seamlessly, with the lyrics echoing the sound of Guthrie himself.

Americana folk artists Jesse Ahern and Jamie Wyatt set an atypical, yet impressive scene for the Murphys, who are usually opened by other punk bands such as Flogging Molly and the Rumjacks. Lead singer Ken Casey provided some background to the Murphys’ new sound, explaining how like many bands, the pandemic took a toll on the members and their families. They were able to emerge with a fresh perspective and a willingness to experiment with a new sound. The album was recorded in Tulsa – a far cry from their home base in Boston – as they looked to Woody Guthrie’s home state of Oklahoma for inspiration during the album’s creation.  

Although the acoustic guitars and all-seated venue was an unfamiliar experience for the Murphys, their performance was impressive as ever.  Co-vocalist Ken Casey entered the limelight this tour, with a greater stage presence than some singers thirty years his younger. Another star of the night? Renaissance man, Tim Brennan, who seamlessly switched between the mandolin, steel guitar, and accordian throughout the night, carrying the same fervor from the opening track to the second encore. They boasted a crowd just as fervent as years past – with middle-aged men serving as the show’s spiritual groupies front and center. The crowd was heavily populated by such faithful fans, however, this was the first Dropkick Murphys concert for a lot of people in the crowd; Ken Casey asked if this was anyone’s first Murphys show and was taken aback by the number of people who cheered.   

While the show was immensely exciting, the band will likely transition back to an electric sound and standing shows soon – all-seated venues just aren’t the Murphys’ style. However, this show served as a unique look at the other side of a punk band that has all but refined their art by now. Overall, there couldn’t have been a better way to spend a Tuesday night, and I will make sure to catch Dropkick Murphys the next time they come through town.

Listen to the Dropkick Murphys’ new album, This Machine Still Kills Fascists, here!

Written By Jack Healey.


About the author

Sarah Mathys

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Sarah is a junior Anthropology major from Austin, Texas, and the Editor in Chief of The Rotation. She has a deep love for overpriced tea, Jack White, and live music. Catch her live on South By Northern Virginia with DJ Marshall every Monday night from 8-10 EST.

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