Dropkick Murphys: HMV Ritz, Manchester

Conscious of the hemorrhoid inducing prices of the venue bar, I paid a visit to the Thirsty Scholar for a gentle warm-up. After drinking as much beer as time allowed, it was a short but eventful stroll round the corner past a crazed looking tramp (wearing a gospel choir outfit), 3 touts (one with a gold tooth) and half a dozen blokes flogging t-shirts for a fiver. I arrived (relatively) unmolested at the grand entrance of the HMV Ritz. Inside, I’d just missed Cornish boys ‘Crowns’, and it was a squeeze to get to the bar. It appeared as if everyone had already arrived and the sold out venue was throbbing like a basket of eels.

The Ritz is a cracking venue, with a bouncing dance floor, good high stage and a sweeping balcony that provides excellent viewing for even the shortest of punk fans. Just as the barmaid handed back my pitiful amount of change, ‘Teenage Bottlerocket’ spilled out onto the stage and proceeded to feed the hungry mosh pit that was forming. Fans were treated to fast bass fingers, a drum solo, whiplashed neck muscles and entertaining stage antics as the band charged through a decent selection of short and aggressive Ramones-esque tracks.

The support act ended to the battle call ‘LET’S GO MURPHYS’ and it wasn’t long before the call was answered. The Boston 7-piece stormed the stage to ‘The Boys Are Back’. The opening track from their new album ‘Signed and Sealed in Blood’ sent a surge of energy through the already charged crowd. The Irish shanties, drinking songs and sing-alongs continued to draw more people into the ever expanding mosh-pit. Murphys were keen to showcase a fat slice of their new record, with simple chorus lines and furious guitartistry cleverly suited to crowd participation.

The set drew to a close with ‘Shipping up to Boston’ and ‘Worker’s song’ and after 5 minutes of constant chanting, the boys were back for an encore and their signature stage invasion to ‘End of the Night’.

Emerging from the crowd after 20+ Murphys songs with shredded voice box and battered body, I was a happy man.