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dropkick murphysWestfalenhalle, Dortmund, Germany
11th February 2020
Dropkick Murphys & Support: Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Jesse Ahern

If you had seen the DROPKICK MURPHYS live on stage during their time at the cult label Hellcat, you got an idea of the long breathing of the band. Indeed: Since more than 20 years, the DROPKICKS step on the gas and their mixture of Street Punk and Irish Folk explodes since the first day. The last album of singer Ken Casey and his band mates - that was released in 2017 under the name ‘11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory’ - gave proof. It’s a fitting title, because most of their songs are exactly what the title promises: well told short stories, that are fed by the Irish and American culture, and that are good to dance and sing with. Now, the band from Quincy, Massachusetts, came back to Germany, also with a stop in Dortmund.


Jesse Ahern

The Boston based solo artist JESSE AHERN went out to enter the stage to the minute. It was half past seven and almost the complete audience was inside the concert hall, just a few were left at the stalls in the foyer, when JESSE played the first chord on his guitar. Instantly the atmosphere turned into a scene that could have happened at a local pub and so was the 30 minutes lasting show. This was no wonder, just because JESSE is probably already known by many of the crowd. He used to play shows at the House of Blues Boston where the DROPKICK MURPHYS usually play a special St. Patrick’s Day show. And he supported the STREET DOGS as well, which is the band of the former MURPHYS’ singer Mike McColgan. But anyway the people started to sing along with JESSE a little. In some songs he played a harmonica - that fit perfectly into the singer-songwriter setting. JESSE AHERN was a good support for the Irish Punk music to be following later, though even better that he won’t be the only support. At the end of his slot the audience was in the right mood for something more, but still captured in a beer soaked bar performance. https://www.jesseahern.com

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Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

FRANK TURNER & THE SLEEPING SOULS is a UK based band surrounding the solo artist and songwriter FRANK TURNER, who comes from Winchester. He was branding his first sound in the late 2000s as a solo artist and singer when he broke through at the festivals of Reading and Leeds. His songwriting genius is revealed by easy to be sung along songs which are inspired by THE BEATLES, JOHNNY CASH among other famous musicians. His first years brought him to a label deal with Epitaph aside of remaining in loyalty to his former label Xtra Mile until today. He evolved since the early days and so does his band continuously. https://frank-turner.com / https://www.facebook.com/frankturnermusic/

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Music & Performance
After a change-over of around 15 minutes, FRANK TURNER & THE SLEEPING SOULS entered the stage with an instant impact to the audience. The first three songs first sounded a little much like Indie Rock inspired, which made the impression the band to be out of place. But soon the setlist pleased everybody with a welcoming change of direction to the likes of Punk Rock. The crowd began to throw their beers into the air as well as letting the audience start to dance, jump and freak out. FRANK TURNER introduced the majority of the following songs with stories or anecdotes. A lot of bands announce their songs and try to tell background stories, which often is too irritating. But Frank did a good job as an entertainer, his words never became boring. The show was much more like an experience, the FRANK TURNER experience.

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He told that as a child he had a video of an IRON MAIDEN show happening at the same place: the Westfalenhalle. So Frank played a short riff of that band just to stop and joking about it. He told that IRON MAIDEN made the crowd cheering and Frank adopted those words that pleased the crowd a lot. He later came back to these words again and again. If he tells that story every night? One story he surely tells every night and if not he absolutely should do: In the middle of the show the band left him alone with his acoustic guitar. Frank introduced the song ‘Jinny Bingham’s Ghost’ from the 2019 released album ‘No Man’s Land’ which is the story of a female bar owner around 400 years ago who was hung in charge of allegedly being a witch. Her bar still is opened in Camden Town today (you will know which, because it is named in the song). That and the subsequent Folk driven song literally explode the temper.

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After the solo singer-songwriter interlude of another song the band re-entered the stage and FRANK TURNER & THE SLEEPING SOULS drove their show to its climax. The show lasted around 60 minutes what seems to be a little long for a support, but it never got boring and one hour was the perfect length.

Setlist
01. Get Better
02. 1933
03. The Lioness
04. Try This At Home
05. If Ever I Stray
06. Photosynthesis
07. Polaroid Picture
08. Long Live the Queen
09. Rescue Annie
10. Jinny Bingham’s Ghost
11. The Next Storm
12. Sons of Liberty
13. Out of Breath
14. Recovery
15. I Still Believe
Four Simple Words

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 10
Light: 7
Sound: 9
Total: 8.8 / 10

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Dropkick Murphys

The Irish Punk Rock band DROPKICK MURPHYS is based in Quincy close to Boston, which for its own is a very Irish shaped city. So it is no wonder that there is a band like the MURPHYS coming from that area. The band was founded in 1996 and had a lot of changes in the line-up, surrounding the bass player and singer Ken Casey who doesn’t play the bass anymore due to having lost the feeling in his fingers after a motorcycle accident in 2018. Since then he performs as a lead singer aside of Al Barr who is the lead singer since 1998. The DROPKICK MURPHYS became famous over the years, working very hard on their success. In their well-known documentary Ken says that the members have always know that they were not good enough nor talented and had to work on their abilities every day. And what better could one say today than that it has worked out? With some very famous singles like ‘I’m Shipping up to Boston’, ‘Rose Tattoo’, ‘The State of Massachusetts’ or ‘Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya’ almost every Punk music loving person should have heard of the Irish culture influenced band. DROPKICK MURPHYS became known for their mixture of love songs, traditional covers and sport themed songs, always having the working class attitude in their hearts. http://www.dropkickmurphys.com / https://www.facebook.com/DropkickMurphys/

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Music & Performance
Hiding the stage with a black curtain the change-over just took around 25 minutes until the arena was blackouted and the band’s typical intro song, ‘The Foggy Dew’ sung by SINÉAD O’CONNOR, was played from tape (CD / laptop or whatever). This situation is always magical and raises the audience’s anticipation. It takes around five minutes to be fully played, but it is worth it. Soon the curtain fell and ‘The Lonesome Boatsman’ sounded loudly through the arena. Immediately the crowd was singing and shouting the chorus-like song with the MURPHYS just to be followed by ‘The Boys Are Back’ which was another intro to the show, introducing the coming 80 to 90 minutes: The boys are back and they are looking for trouble. And they really did. The two singers Al and Ken literally visited the first rows from the beginning and over the full show again and again. New seemed to be the fact that the MURPHYS have found a new bagpipe player after their last one called Scruffy Wallace left the band in 2015.

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One hit after the other was played, driving the mood to the evening’s climax. In the beginning period of the show - as would be repeated later - a confetti cannon was used. This was not very surprising, because the band went on tour without releasing an album in advance. Only the small single ‘Smash Shit Up’ was put out in January 2020, some weeks earlier. While their song ‘Blood’ from their newest album the line array refused its service - the basses still worked and so did the near field for the first rows. It took almost the complete song to repair what looked like a protection circuit in the PA. It got a little quiet around, but this was because everybody still wanted to listen to the music. Not sure if the band on stage realized all this with their in-ear monitors. Though it did not matter, as the next song was their hit ‘The State of Massachusetts’. The crowd was back singing and shouting along to this masterpiece of a Punk Rock story.

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‘The Bonny’ from the new single and some other popular tracks followed. The performance was supported by a good light show and a LED video show in the background showing artworks, logos, fonts or even music videos. The audience celebrated their heroes in the most massive way. The journey took the show to a fun point: On ‘11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory’ the DROPKICK MURPHYS released ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, known as the stadium anthem of the Liverpool FC. In Germany a lot of football clubs have adopted - not to call it brash burglary - this song along others to their own club culture. The local football club in Dortmund for example has done this. And so even it is a Liverpool song, the light show was kept in yellow which are the colours of Dortmund instead of the Liverpool’s red. The MURPHYS are interested in sports in general and let everyone know, sometimes with the colour of light.

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The show went on with ‘Prisoner’s Song’ and some more of the MURPHYS’ famous songs, leading the concert to its supposed end. ‘Worker’s Song’ and ‘Rose Tattoo’ were the undeniable highlights before the band left the stage. For ‘Rose Tattoo’ the band asked the other day in advance to its release as a single to make tattoos of roses or even of the DROPKICK MURPHYS rose tattoo looking like logo and to send them the pictures and videos. The band used the material for an official music video and now again for the live video show in the background. How much more could you integrate your fans? After a short break the band re-entered the stage to play an encore, giving the present crowd the rest. ‘Going Out in Style’, the goodbye song ‘Until the Next Time’, their biggest hit ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston’ and finally ‘My Way’ as an outro were played and finished an almost perfect night.

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Setlist
01. Intro: The Foggy Dew
02. The Lonesome Boatman
03. The Boys Are Back
04. Famous for Nothing
05. Blood
06. The State of Massachusetts
07. The Bonny (Gerry Cinnamon cover)
08. The Walking Dead
09. The Auld Triangle (Brendan Behan cover)
10. The Battle Rages On
11. The Black Velvet Band ([traditional] cover)
12. Your Spirit's Alive
13. First Class Loser
14. Smash Shit Up
15. Cruel
16. The Warrior’s Code
17. You’ll Never Walk Alone (Rodgers & Hammerstein cover)
18. Prisoner’s Song
19. I Fought the Law (The Crickets cover)
20. Jimmy Collins’ Wake
21. Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
22. Out of Our Heads
23. Worker’s Song
24. Rose Tattoo
---
25. Going Out in Style
26. Until the Next Time
27. I’m Shipping Up to Boston
28. Outro: My Way

Rating
Music: 9
Performance: 10
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9.3 / 10

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All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)
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