Dropkick Murphys Rock Phoenix

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Dropkick Murphys - Nov. 5, 2022 - Orpheum Theatre, Phoenix

Boom! The sound of a simulated cannon shot rang out in the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix as a light show dazzled and Dropkick Murphys launched into the first song of their set, "Ten Times More." The song is from the band's new album This Machine Still Kills Fascists, an effort inspired by the artistry of the late folk icon Woody Guthrie (Guthrie famously had "this machine kills fascists" painted on one of his guitars.) You could even say the album is a collaboration with Guthrie; Dropkick Murphys were allowed to dig into the Guthrie archives and they found lyrics and ideas for songs that Woody had left behind and they fleshed them out into finished songs, resulting in an atypical Dropkick Murphys album.

In order to honor the tenor of This Machine Still Kills Fascists the band's current tour finds them playing an acoustic show for seated audiences, something practically unheard of for Dropkick Murphys and the first ever of its kind for a Phoenix audience. None of this means the show is any less rowdy; indeed the group is not rocking electric guitars on this tour and guitarist Jeff DaRosa, for example, features on banjo and mandolin. The nature of the set also allowed singer Ken Casey to explain things about Guthrie's life, music and mindset and how it dovetails with the Murphys ethos. To put it in a nutshell, both acts champion working men and women and the rights both inherent and hard-earned that go hand-in-hand. This theme runs throughout This Machine Still Kills Fascists and the band played the album in its entirety although not completely in order.

While the entire band was highly energized, Casey roamed the stage like a caged lion both while singing and while speaking between songs. Early in the set the guys played the swinging "Cadillac, Cadillac," the twangy "Talking Jukebox" and the Johnny Cash-style romp that is "Two 6's Upside Down," a cut about being sentenced to a 99-year stint in prison. All of those cuts are new but sprinkled into the early set were the raucous crowd participation cut "Middle Finger" a self-explanatory song from the band's 2021 release Turn up That Dial as well as 2005 cut "Citizen CIA." An Irish-flavored rendition of the Pete Seeger chestnut "We Shall Overcome" was performed and Casey explained how a Ukrainian group the band knows recently recorded the cut to encourage their countrymen in time of war.

The second portion of the set included a run of five more cuts from This Machine Still Kills Fascists; "Waters Are A'risin'," "Where Trouble is At," "All You Fonies," "The Last One" and "Never Git Drunk No More" which featured guest singer Jaime Wyatt who also played her own opening set. Casey intro'd the song with commentary about how he and the original members of the band got sober 20-years ago after being hard core alcoholics. With all but one of the new songs now performed ("Dig a Hole" would come during the encore) Casey thanked the audience for being so receptive to hearing all the new music and said they deserved to hear one they know and kicked the band into fan favorite "Rose Tattoo" to thunderous approval from the crowd. More oldies featured at the end of the show and encore including "The Fields of Athenry," "Barroom Hero" and "I'm Shipping Up to Boston." The Boston-based singer Jessie Ahearn also played an opening set for this extremely entertaining and memorable evening.

The Dropkick Murphys tour to support This Machine Still Kills Fascists continues through mid-November and the band also has lots of dates scheduled in 2023. Find a listing of all upcoming dates here.

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