Author and Photographer: Jonathan Stark (Stark Raving Mad Photography LLC.)
Ah, Dropkick Murphys….. A band I’ve been listening to since “Give’ Em the Boot” came out in 1997. The Dropkick Murphys had a song on there titled “Barroom Hero” and it was absolutely incredible. Pretty sure I’m not the only one who felt that way. Totally original, compelling, raw and rowdy. I was playing rugby at that time for The University of Central Florida and the song fit the bill; got a lot of play on the pitch and at the pub.
Dropkick Murphys and others have the power to take me back. They are part of a soundtrack to my life, a soundtrack to our lives. They are still hammering it out, refusing to fade and they certainly have not lost their relevance and impact.
Last year they toured with Clutch and Hatebreed and I was fortunate enough to catch the show. Side note here, Clutch puts on an awesome show. You can catch them on tour with Volbeat starting in April.
I shot a multitude of outstanding shows in 2019 from Social Distortion, Bad Religion, Killswitch Engage, Korn, After the Burial, As I Lay Dying, and Within Temptation to Switchfoot and Lecrae. However, I’m not sure anyone can touch the energy of the boys in Dropkick. It was just me and one other photographer in the photo pit and we were absolutely hustling. I mean sweaty, heavy breathing Crossfit style workout. Ken and Al had us running as they moved from the stage to the crowd and back again. To add to the fun they swapped sides of the stage on the regular. I was amazed that we all worked together in a nice almost choreographed fashion. It was an honor.
I had a few magic captures in 2019, one came during the All That Remains concert at The Oriental Theater in Denver when Phil sung "What If I Was Nothing" to a woman in the audience. Another, I felt was when a fan in line at the Unashamed Forever Tour in Tampa gave me a high-five. The last was during the Dropkick Murphys show in Denver when Ken gave the microphone to a young fan in the audience. These moments are some of my proudest.
Ken and the guys honoring their fans, especially the young fans was something that I’ll never forget. It shows their humility and how much they make their concerts into an organic event, almost one body, band and fan moving as one. I was very impressed. Having been a fan since before their first LP was released, shockingly I had never attended a Dropkick concert. For shame.
Besides the aforementioned, the show was invariably charged for so many reasons. The tech guys and soundboard hustlers (Forgive me; I’m a layman in the industry speak.) were topnotch. As a photographer the lighting was on point from the opening notes on the bagpipe. That is such a blessing to a photographer operating under the first three songs rule. Additionally, everyone in the band was engaged, not just going through the motions. It was obvious they are truly enjoying the performance just as much if not more so than the fans in attendance. I had taken my oldest son, Brody, who’s a fan as well. He informed me that based on his learned opinion, Dropkick Murphys and August Burns Red were tied for the best performances of the year. He’s right; August Burns Red does put on one heck of a show too.
The Dropkick Murphys are headed overseas. Likely as I type this sub-professional sub-par article they are in flight. January 28th they will be playing Madrid, Spain. I’m a little jealous as they will be hitting Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Denmark and so on. You can see it for yourself here, those lucky bastages. Whether you’re an avid fan, kinda fan, or just like a live performance, go see Dropkick Murphys perform live….. Maybe you can catch their show in Oslo, Norway on February 3rd. I’m thinking vacation.
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