The flag bearers for Celtic punkmusic, Flogging Molly have made a career out of fusing the ideologies of punkmusic with their deep seated Irish roots, creating an amalgamation of fast paced, drunken shanties that tell tales of politics, poverty, society, love and everything in between.
It’s been a six year wait for fans looking for new music to sink their teeth into, 2011’s ‘Speed of Darkness’ has been followed up by the band’s latest release ‘Life Is Good’ , which is vintage FM with new jig inducing tracks to sit a long side old favourites.
As The Who’s, ‘Baba O’Riley’ begins to fade out and the lights dim around the O2 Ritz, an electricity is felt through the air and the atmosphere begins to rise as the band take to the stage. Wasting little time the band introduce the masses to their new material instantly with ‘The Hand of John L Sullivan’ a rapid paced, massive sounding track followed by the infectiously energetic ‘Swagger’ and the defiant anthem ‘Drunken Lullabies’ – all three songs setting the pace for the evening.
The band exude a down to earth charisma that is epitomized by lead singer, Dave King and his banter with the crowd in between songs, whether it be cheekily dedicating ‘Selfish Man’ to a Liverpudlian friend in the crowd to draw out light hearted boo’s or whether it’s tossing a can of Guinness to the front row during ‘Saints & Sinners’ it shows the band don’t need theatrics to connect with their audience, it gives the gig a communal spirit that can be lacking in today’s musical landscape.
The energy is brought down a touch for the band’s more somber songs ‘Life In A Tenement Square’ and ‘Float’ but the crowd are still providing plenty of backup vocals, before the band launch into their latest political wake up call track ‘Reptiles (We Woke Up)’ showing once again that the band’s social commentary is as relevant today as it ever was.
Atmosphere around the venue is turned from defiant sing song to frantic chaos as the band play at break neck speed with thumping tracks ‘Rebels of A Sacred Heart’ and ‘Devil’s Dancefloor’ providing the crowd with enough incentive to throw themselves around as they mosh, stomp and crowd surf without a care.
It’s at this point, as you’re drinking in the scene of chaos that the diversity in the audience becomes strikingly obvious, an elder statesman punk still rocking a mohawk moshing away next to the 20 something year old wearing his favourite flannel shirt. It’s a real visual representation of the way the band can appeal to multiple people through their tip toeing between folk and punkmusic.
As the set begins to wind down the energy levels stay at a ferociously high level with the band ending their main set with the devilishly ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ before returning to the stage for an encore of the new politically influenced ‘Crushed’ and with what many would describe as the quintessential FM song ‘Salty Dog’.
It’s been two decades since the band began to release their romantically poetic but realistically grim music to the masses and their social commentary is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. Their live shows never leave anything to be desired and not to discredit what they have on record but they really are a band that you have to see live to feel the full effect of what their music can do.
The crowd’s energetic and chaotic reaction to the band on a wet Tuesday night in Manchester goes to show just how well this bands message comes across in a live setting and it begs the question, if they can incite this much energy from a crowd on a Tuesday night, just imagine what they could do with a Friday night.
Life Is Good is now available via Vanguard Records
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