I wasn’t planning on going to a Flogging Molly show when I stepped foot in Seattle, Wash. It was simply the first stop on our aimless spring break trip. After taking a trip up the Space Needle and doing all the other usual dorky, tourist-y things, it was time to find our entertainment for the evening. My first choice, a Saul Williams show, was a 21+ event that my 19-year-old friend couldn’t get into, so we decided to check out the Celtic punks at Seattle’s historic Paramount Theater. While I was always more into songs about drinking because you just got dumped than songs about drinking because you’re Irish, I did my best to get into the spirit of the evening. St Patty’s was only a few days away, after all.
The first act to take the stage was Throw Rag’s Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss of Circle Jerks and the Weirdos, who provided an interesting start to the evening that was about the last thing I expected from a Flogging Molly opener. They provided what they called “Spirit music,” and their set consisted entirely of acoustic guitars, bouzouki and soulful vocals. They played for half-an-hour, closing with a cover of “Spiritual,” which they dedicated to Johnny Cash. For the most part, the crowd wasn’t that into them, but they played their hearts out anyway.
Next up was Suedehead. I figured any band named after a Morrissey song had to be good. They played a mix of early Elvis Costello-esque power pop with more punk rock, early Clash tendencies that would rise to the surface occasionally. The group had a lot of energy onstage, and I plan on checking them out more in the future. Once again, the crowd ignored the band for the most part, which I suppose is better than the boos and bottles I expected a rowdy Flogging Molly crowd to greet an out-of-place opener with.
After a 30-minute set change, the headliners finally took the stage. As soon as the first few notes of “Drunken Lullabies” rang out, the place exploded, and I was smashed against the barricade, unable to move. There are a few bands I love enough to deal with those kinds of shenanigans, but Flogging Molly isn’t one of them, so after four or five songs I made my way out of the mayhem, and up to the bar. From further back, I was able to appreciate how tight the band actually is as a unit, and I began to appreciate the show more.
Much like my experience seeing Reel Big Fish a few months back, I was surprised that I actually knew a lot more of the band's songs than I had realized, and found myself singing along on several occasions. Dave King was an engaging frontman, telling stories between songs and working the crowd like few know how to do. I was also able to appreciate how much work the band had put into its stage production from my spot towards the back of the room. They had lights strewn all across the room, leading to and from the stage in sync with their Celtic punk rhythms.
Towards the end of the night, when the group started to play my favorite song, “What’s Left of the Flag,” I made my way back down to the floor. I was pleasantly surprised to see that all the various moshing and dancing going on seemed to be in great spirits, as opposed to some of the horror stories of violence I’ve heard about the band’s shows. After a quick break, Flogging Molly came out and played a cover Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” which worked surprisingly well stylistically, before ending with fan favorite “Salty Dog.”
While I may not spend a great deal of my time listening to Irish punk, I managed to have a great time at this show. Flogging Molly has developed into quite a potent live act over the years. I will definitely try to see them again next time they come around.
1. Drunken Lullabies
2. Requiem for a Dying Song
3. Speed of Darkness
5. Life In a Tenement Square
6. Whistles the Wind
7. The Likes of You
9. The Power’s Out
10. The Sun Never Shines (On Closed Doors)
11. A Prayer for Me in Silence
13. Black Friday Rule
14. Oliver Boy (All of Our Boys)
15. Devil’s Dance Floor
16. If I Ever Leave this World Alive
17. Rebels of the Sacred Heart
18. What’s Left of the Flag
19. Seven Deadly Sins
20. The Worst Day Since Yesterday
21. The Times They are A-Changin’
22. Salty Dog