There may be nowhere else in the world where you can rock out to an accordion, bagpipes, and a banjo with a punk rock twist than a Dropkick Murphy’s concert.
The Boston based band returned to the New York State Fair on the last Saturday night of the 2022 season for their fourth appearance. This time was their first performance at the fairground’s more expansive Chevy Park, and the band seemed to like it.
“It’s just us and we can get away from those ‘farm types,'” singer Ken Casey said to the crowd.
Seats were filled well before showtime and the lawn was carpeted with Irish — or at least Irish for a night— fans dressed in plenty of flat caps, plaid, green, and even a few kilts.
The Celtic punk rockers played a rowdy 22 song setlist, lasting over an hour and a half, with a healthy mix of old sing-a-long favorites and new tunes.
Band leader Casey took on vocals for almost the entire evening as his co-singer Al Barr was missing due to his mother’s health. The band’s driving sound thundered through opening songs “Boys Are Back,” “Prisoner’s Song,” and “Mick Jonas Nicked My Pudding.”
The Dropkick Murphys are a band which feeds off the energy from the crowd and Casey asked security to let fans come closer to the stage. He regularly pointed the mic at them to sing their favorite parts and to high five and hug the band’s youngest fans.
Casey often shouts out the kids in the crowd in appreciation, and this concert was no different. He followed it up with an ask that they look the other way as the band sang “Middle Finger,” with plenty of hand gestures.
New tunes were played to mixed reactions. The band seemed to do their best Johnny Cash impression with “Two 6′s Upside Down” and the crowd that had been dancing for most of the show seemed to stop in their tracks.
Almost halfway through the show, Casey announced the band’s newest album, “This Machine Still Kills Fascists” featuring anti-fascist lyrics by folk singer Woody Guthrie. The title of the album carries the same words seen on a sticker attached to one of Guthrie’s guitars .
As Casey spoke about the album, he went on a rant about the billionaires who want to take down unions and don’t care about the working class. His monologue went on to include pro-immigration comments and “MAGA” merchandise being made in China , while their own merchandise was made in America.
“If you’re a real patriot, you won’t support the MAGA movement,” Casey said.
This garnered a few “Let’s Go Brandon” chants from the crowd amidst cheers of support.
New tracks “All You Fonies” and the militant march “Ten Times More” were placed squarely in the center of the evening, surrounded by more familiar tracks, “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya,” “Skinhead on the MBTA,” and “ The State of Massachusetts.”
The night’s music traveled back across the pond with a cover of Scottish singer Gerry Cinnamon’s “The Bonny.” It was followed up by the first song the band had ever written, “Barroom Hero.”
A sweet tribute to Al Barr’s mother, Ingrid, came in the form a punk-meets-musical theater Rodgers and Hammerstein cover, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
Band members were featured throughout the evening, like Tim Brennan and his head banging accordion playing, Jeff DaRosa and his wailing banjo, and bassist Kevin Rheault who took center stage to sing AC/DC cover “TNT.”
The band exited the stage after singing “Rose Tattoo,” but fans pounded the metal benches, stomped their feet, clapped and cheered and chanted until they returned. We knew they would, as they played their encore duo of tunes “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” and “Kiss Me I’m Sh*tfaced.”
“Could this be our last song ever at the New York State Fair?” Casey asked the fans. “We just want to be invited back.”
Dropkick Murphys have been attracting major attendance numbers to the fair since 2018 and if tonight’s boisterous crowd was any indication to whether they will be invited back, the answer could be a resounding “Hell yeah.”
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