White Buffalo & Dylan Walshe undoubtedly won over some new fans during their opening sets on Tuesday night in Toronto but there was little doubt as to who the masses were there to see. The faithful gathered at the Danforth Music Hall exploded when Celtic rockers Flogging Molly took the stage to kickoff 90-minutes of rollicking good times.
The band are currently on tour in support of their new album, Life is Good. It is Flogging Molly’s first studio offering in six years and comes two decades after their debut release, Alive Behind the Green Door.
The group’s raison d’être is a deft combination of traditional Irish ditties and punk rock. That unlikely pairing resulted in an infectious sound that includes hat tips to influences such as The Dubliners, Johnny Cash, The Pogues and The Clash. Their playlist intertwines vibrant stories of Irish history and class struggle with the never-ending pursuit of Guinness-soaked fun.
If the sound is what hooked listeners originally, it was the insanely energetic live shows that built a rabid fan base. Flogging Molly have toured relentlessly over the past two decades including multiple Warped Tours which earned them a loyal youth following.
Interestingly, the band’s moniker was the product of regular gigs at an Irish pub called Molly Malone’s. According to lead singer Dave King, they played there so often that, “We felt like we were flogging it to death, so we called the band Flogging Molly.”
The Danforth show featured fan favourites Drunken Lullabies, What’s Left of the Flag and Rebels of the Sacred Heart along with new tales of preachers, punchers and politics from Life is Good. The Hand of John L Sullivan was the first song out of the gate and drove the crowd into a frenzy with a spirited tribute to the heavyweight boxer who was one of America’s first sports superstars and a hero to working class Irish immigrants. Reptiles (We Woke Up) underlined the need for continued political activism while Guns of Jericho brought the mosh pit to a brief standstill for a rousing spiritual interlude.
Although it was missing from the Toronto show, Welcome to Adamstown is another track from the new album worth mentioning. It features a catchy horn section which King describes as, “West Dublin meets East L.A.” In true Flogging Molly fashion, the upbeat number hides the darker story of a planned community outside of Dublin where construction halted a decade ago when the Irish economy tanked and nothing but “shadows in a ghost town” were left behind.
The final song of the evening traded foot stomping and hand clapping for whistles as King and company sent us on our way with a cover of the Monty Python classic, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. It was the perfect ending to a perfect night.
The verdict? Flogging Molly have passed the 20-year mark and continue to write great music, pack dance floors and inspire calls for social justice. The world is better for it on all three counts. Sláinte!
Source: Brendan Fyfe