Flogging Molly - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Flogging Molly

Live in Grand Rapids (2014)

live show

As usual, I showed up late and missed the first band at the Orbit Room on 12/5/14. They were called Pasadena, and a few people I talked to said they were better than the next band, who I did see. The Mighty Stef seemed promising at first. The band's frontman looked like a Ramone from 1976, complete with long hair in his face, black leather biker jacket and even a black and white horizontally striped shirt. He spoke about how punk didn't start in New York or London, but in nearby Detroit with MC5 and The Stooges. Unfortunately, once the Dublin based band started playing, it was obvious that their sound was more influenced by fellow countrymen U2 than proto-punk. It wasn't terrible, just a bit dull. Most of the songs had catchy choruses, and at their best they could be described as an Irish Gaslight Anthem. Earnest rock and roll for those of you who enjoy that kind of thing.

There was a good crowd on hand for Flogging Molly's second Grand Rapids show in less than two years. It was a Friday night and the booze was flowing. The seven piece band took the stage to "Screaming at the Wailing Wall" from their third LP Within a Mile of Home. FM played songs from all five of their studio albums, with a heavy dose of fan favorites from Drunken Lullabies and Swagger. While Flogging Molly is made up of top notch musicians, frontman and founder Dave King is definitely the focal point. I don't where he developed his skills at working a crowd. Maybe it was while playing traditional music in Ireland as a kid, or maybe it was while singing for the hair-metal band Fastway. Either way, he's got it down to a science. He's fantastic at storytelling and between song banter. At one point, while looking at the banners hanging in the club, he said "This is one of the greatest beer states in the country. What's up with all this Bud Light shit?". His tales of living in Detroit also got a boisterous response from the crowd.

Generally, King could be found behind his acoustic guitar, strumming like a madman. Occasionally, he'd put the guitar down and do an awkward, brain damaged looking version of the Riverdance. I'm pretty sure watching him hop up and down was entertaining for all the right reasons. The crowd also spent a good portion of the night jumping up and down, and clapping, and singing along. It was definitely a festive atmosphere. Flogging Molly put down their electric guitars for a three song mini acoustic set. It included "The Son Never Shines(On Closed Doors), a personal favorite. King dedicated the song to his 93 year old mother. FM closed their regular set with "What's Left of the Flag". Their three song encore ended with "If I Ever Leave This World Alive". After 100 minutes, the audience was satisfied with both the quantity and quality of the performance.

As much as I enjoyed the show, it was a little bittersweet. This was probably my last show at the Orbit Room. There are no more shows booked at the venue, and the end seems near. It hasn't been announced officially, but the writing is on the wall. The 1600 capacity club has been a mainstay of the West Michigan music scene since the 70's. It is located in an easily accessible suburban area, with ample free parking. It is literally in a mall parking lot. The building is nondescript, and the inside is a black box that hasn't been significantly upgraded in 20 years. The sound is often not that great, the drinks are way overpriced, and the bouncers are regularly overzealous. All that being said, I can't think of a place where I've seen more great shows over the past 25 years. Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys, Danzig, Social Distortion, Slayer, GWAR, Ministry, and Helmet are a few I can think of that I saw there more than once. Faith No More, Tool, Misfits, Type O Negative, Megadeth and Anthrax are a few other favorites right off the top of my head. RIP Orbit Room. If they turn you into a Pottery Barn, I will shake my fist at it every time I drive by.

Flogging Molly set list:
1. Screaming at the Wailing Wall
2. (No More)Paddy's Lament
3. Every Dog Has Its Day
4. Revolution
5. Whistles the Wind
6. Drunken Lullabies
7. Life in a Tenement Square
8. Saints and Sinners
9. Requiem for a Dying Song
10. This Present State of Grace
11. The Son Never Shines(On Closed Doors)
12. Us of Lesser Gods
13. Tobacco Island
14. The Rare Ould Times
15. Devil's Dance Floor
16. The Likes of You Again
17. Swagger
18. Float
19. Salty Dog
20. What's Left of the Flag
21. The Wrong Company
22. The Seven Deadly Sins
23. If I Ever Leave This World Alive