Flogging Molly is a seven-piece, Irish-American band that brings a unique style of Celtic Punk to the stage like few others. Lead by Dave King, former front-man of the rock band Fastway; their music ranges from the boisterous lyrics of the The Clash and Green Day, to the darker side reminiscent of country crooner Johnny Cash and Irish legends, the Dubliners. Their most recent release and current tour namesake,“Life is Good“, does nothing to dispel that notion. Lyrics that reference Ireland and its vast history, drinking, love, death and even the Catholic church are mixed in a style that is somewhat controversial, yet serves as a lyrical source for the bands energetic performances that have become legendary.
After 20 years together and literally thousands of live performances, Flogging Molly never lacks energy and emotion on stage. Fact is that every show is like their first, and tonight’s show at The Fillmore Detroit was no different. As the lights dimmed for the bands chosen walk-on music, The Who‘s “Baba O’Riley”, it was like a switch was thrown and the audible noise level rose from a low level murmur to a deafening roar. When the band joined in on stage, you could visually see the emotional expressions on their faces and feel the energy building in unison from the vibe of the delirious crowd. Every person in the venue came to their feet in unison and melted together with the band to form a loud, rhythmic unity that had the floor of The Fillmore bouncing up and down in a way that most had not felt before, including yours truly!
The immense energy and enthusiasm displayed by Flogging Molly right from the start never diminished throughout the 1-hour and 45-minute set. Lead by the energetic 57-year old, Dave King, and his youthful break-neck pace; the bearded Irishman commands the stage like few others do. With his guitar firmly strapped on, King and his infectious smile continually roam the stage side-to-side while interacting charismatically with the fans. Mixed in with the bands uncanny ability to know exactly which songs the audience wants to hear without any experimentation, they have nurtured a formula that works and works extremely well. “Drunken Lullabies”, “Swagger”, “Devils Dance Floor” and “Life in a Tenement Square” read like a “Best of Flogging Molly” concert, but realistically just another blue-collar set-list from the wildly popular party band!
To breakup the furious pace, and to give the band and audience somewhat of a breather, Flogging Molly does throw in a few slower songs in throughout the night. “The Hand of John L. Sullivan”, off Life Is Good, goes on to tell a story of a Irish heavyweight boxing champion. It is regarded as one of the best and most dance-able songs off the latest album, yet has a hook that gets in your head that you cant seem to let go of. It’s one of those songs that sound engineers despise at live performances due the volume separation from each of the seven musicians and continuously changing pitch. Tonight their work was spot on and really one of the highlights of the performance!
The end of the night got wild once again during the encore with “Salty Dog” and “If I Ever Leave This World Alive”. By now the mosh pit – yes I said mosh pit – was going again and a few remaining crowd-surfers jumped their last wave and made their way toward the stage barrier. When Flogging Molly finally said their good-nights to the appreciative crowd, it was hard to tell who was more exhausted – the band themselves or the capacity crowd who had just witnessed, arguably, one of the most over-the-top party bands in existence!!
Flogging Molly has achieved something that very few other bands can lay claim, a 20 plus year music career, without any commercial means to bring their unique sound to the masses. You will rarely hear their music on the FM airwaves or even satellite radio unless it is St. Patrick’s Day, yet they continue to sell out venues and tour the world non-stop. How do they continue to do it, show after show, venue after venue all over the world? My answer, “buy a ticket next time they are in town and go see the show“. You will have your answer and I would bet from that point on you’ll be a fan, too!