I’d seen Flogging Molly live twice before – at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta on the 2000 Van Warped Tour and again at the Altamont Fairgrounds for the 2007 Irish 2000 Music and Arts Festival.
Both performances were devastatingly good.
But in the relatively cozy confines of Northern Lights in Clifton Park last week, the seven-piece California Celtic rockers brought it to a whole other level in front of a jam-packed, sold-out crowd. The band’s outdoor festival outings were fun, to be sure, but at Northern Lights, their boundless energy didn’t dissipate into the night air – it just continued to bounce around the room, seemingly building bigger and bigger as it absorbed the Guinness-soaked energy of the fans, too, who were clearly enjoying one very righteous party.
Guitarist-vocalist-bandleader Dave King and his rousing band of music-makers cranked open the show with the title track of their upcoming album, “Speed of Darkness.” And although the album isn’t slated to be released until May, it seemed as though at least half of the crowd was singing along. They followed with the frantic tempo of the hot-wired “The Likes of You Again,” launching the first – but far from the last – crowd-surfers of the night.
“Sunday night is usually a big night for bingo,” King declared. “So we’d like to thank you all for putting down you bingo pencils and coming out to see Flogging Molly tonight.” Didn’t look like much of a bingo-loving crowd to me…
They aced the hangover anthem “The Worst Day Since Yesterday,” with accordionist Matt Hensley leading the charge. “Drunken Lullabies” was anything but a lullaby, and the crowd raised their collective voice as they chanted along. Rochester native Dennis Casey captivated the crowd with a deliciously distorted, almost metal-esque guitar solo during “Black Friday Rule,” cheered on by lots of his family members.
Another excellent as-yet-unreleased tune “Saints and Sinners” veered from punk jig to Appalachian hoedown in the hands of banjo man Robert Schmidt. And rip-snorter, “(No More) Paddy’s Lament,” went straight for the throat, spurred on by the tireless rhythm section of bassist Nathen Maxwell and drummer George Schwindt.
King battered away at a bodhran during “Black Friday Rule,” sang through a megaphone for upcoming album’s debut single “Don’t Shut ’em Down” and even kicked up his heels for a brief jig during the encore of “Tobacco Island.”
The band pared back a bit for a more acoustic-oriented mid-show mini-set of “The Wanderlust” (with fiddler Bridget Regan switching over to pennywhistle), a new ballad “So Sail On” and “Factory Girls.” They dampened the volume a bit, but certainly not the intensity. And while the lyrics were often dark – especially the new songs – the spirit throughout the non-stop, nearly two-hour show was positively joyous.
“We’re not here to mourn death,” King pointed out as he lifted his glass in a toast. “We’re here to celebrate life.”
Greg Haymes’ review at The Times Union
Excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review at The Daily Gazette: “It was a wonder that, with so many acoustic instruments onstage, everything rang through with clarity and power. Bridget Regan’s fiddle powered through searing solos and mournful fills with ease, while Matt Hensley’s accordion and Bob Schmidt’s mandolin and banjo weaved seamlessly through lead guitarist Dennis Casey’s power chords on anthems such as ‘The Worst Day Since Yesterday.’ Compliments go to the soundmen working this show, a stop on the band’s seventh annual St. Patrick’s Day tour, the ‘Green 17’ tour. Though, to be fair, every song the band played was an anthem. ‘Saints and Sinners’ once again got fists in the air. Even the more acoustic guitar-driven numbers, such as a stunning run-through of ‘The Wanderlust,’ turned explosive by the end.”
FLOGGING MOLLY SET LIST
Speed of Darkness
The Likes of You Again
Requiem for a Dying Song
The Worst Day Since Yesterday
Saints and Sinners
(No More) Paddy’s Lament
So Say Long
Black Friday Rule
Don’t Shut ‘Em Down
Rebels of the Sacred Heart
Devil’s Dance Floor
If I Ever Leave This World Alive
What’s Left of the Flag
Seven Deadly Sins