Dropkick Murphys, a high-energy raucous, Celtic punk band out of Quincy, MA (just outside Boston) touted their most recent tour, This Machine…Theater Tour, as acoustic. And while the concert traded in the mosh pit for seats for the audience (of which none of the fans sat in as soon as DKM took the stage), it did not trade in an ounce of energy. As for acoustic? Well, sort of, but with an electric guitar or two in the mix. The night was a tad more stripped-down version of Dropkick Murphys fans expect to see in concert but not by much.
What was different was the origin of many of the songs and the overall theme of the night. The stage was filled with candles. a large cross, a statue of Mary, skulls with roses (we guess it’s a symbol of the eternal struggle between good and darkness), and a prominent, framed photo of Woody Guthrie. Missing was lead vocalist Al Barr, who has been documented as taking time away from touring to take care of some family matters.
Their entire show at The Factory in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield on Nov. 19 felt as though the whole room had been taken to church and lead vocalist Ken Casey gave a 100-plus minute fire and brimstone sermon mixed with rousing stories and music about strife and struggles and how to protest against “the man” (the one percent/big business etc.). The band performed eight of the 10 songs on their September 30, 2022, released the acoustic album This Machine Still Kills Fascists. The timely album is comprised of unused lyrics and words by anti-fascist folk singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie that the band painstakingly and lovingly put together.
In an October Rolling Stone interview about the new album, Casey remarked, “‘If I dropped these lyrics in front of you, you’d go, ‘Oh, what band wrote this last week? It goes to show the world is cyclical and what goes around, unfortunately, sometimes comes around. And it’s coming back around again … How can you take a working-class person and turn them into someone who would argue on behalf of the ultra-rich, over standing shoulder to shoulder with their fellow worker? But that’s what the people in power and wealth always wanted to do: Divide. Their biggest fear is the voice of the people and the voice of the worker united. This time, Casey selected lyrics that, despite being written 80 or so years ago [by Woody Guthrie], were especially resonant in today’s moment, a time when democracy is imperiled, the wealth gap is widening, and fascism is having a resurgence.”
Unfortunately, this not-to-be-missed tour lasted only one month and was seen in only 22 cities with St. Louis being the second to last night. This writer hopes they’ll resurrect the tour so thousands of others, including many new fans, will be mesmerized by the energy and the messages shared throughout.
Songs included “Take ’Em Down,” “Cadillac, Cadillac,” a cover of Pete Seeger’s “We Shall Overcome” (at the suggestion of Casey’s mom “you gotta listen to mom”), “Worker’s Song,” “Rose Tattoo,” and “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.”
This Machine Still Kills Fascists DKM band members are: Ken Casey (lead vocals), Tim Brennan (guitars, tin whistle, accordion, piano, vocals), Jeff DaRosa (guitars, banjo, mandolin, vocals), Matt Kelly (drums, percussion, and vocals), James Lynch (guitars and vocals), and Kevin Rheault (bass).
No stranger to DKM fans, Boston-based Jesse Ahern kicked the night off at 7:15 p.m. to a growing crowd with 30 minutes of mostly just him bringing his own mix of Americana, folk, rock, and rockabilly, a bit reminiscent of a calmer but still gruff The Pogues, to the stage. Ahern kept the crowd engaged with several stories including one that he also turns wrenches to make extra money when he’s not performing.
He tossed his new album and a t-shirt into the audience and said more than once, “I loves you all and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
On “I Drive a Truck,” several people from backstage joined him and played various instruments. He joked that he’d tried to get people on stage with him the entire tour to no avail until tonight. The second opener, Jaime Wyatt, also joined him on stage for “The Older I Get” and in another surprise, Ken Casey, donning a blue tracksuit, joined them both toward the end of that song.
In the second slot of the night, the now Nashville-based Jaime Wyatt played her outlaw country music for about 35-minutes. She peppered in several stories about her past and how thrilled she was to be on the tour and that “everything about this tour has been fun.”
She felt she fit right in being “from a big Irish-Catholic family.” Her songs are deeply personal and reflect her rocky road of crime, addiction, depression, and recovery. From “Rattlesnake Girl” to “Fugitive,” Wyatt said, “I tried not to have any filter with [my] songs.”
See more photos from the night: https://bit.ly/DKM22cz
ICMY, more photos from the night: https://bit.ly/DKM22cz
In my work life, I help nonprofits and small businesses with media and public relations. In my what I love to do life, you can typically find me photographing either wild horses or concerts.