Flogging Molly Tempe Beach Park 3/17/14
A wild, crazy, and drunken St. Paddy's Day celebration unfolded at Tempe Beach Park on Monday night as the Celtic folk-punks of Flogging Molly rocked a crowd of thousands during their visit to the Valley on their 10th and final Green 17 Tour.
Dave King, the band's Irish-born lead vocalist/guitarist, kept the energy high as he and his bandmates capped off their decade-long tradition of spending St. Patrick's performing at the Tempe park with a bang.
As King danced little jigs on stage, many people in the crowd attempted to follow in his footsteps, but -- due to inebriation -- ended up looking like they were performing poorly executed versions of the Running Man. Nonetheless, this was a night to remember for those in attendance of the celebration, and not because of drunken dance moves.
Flogging Molly's show was also a celebration, as King explained, of how the Irish are finally getting along. And, he added, if they can find peace with each other, then everyone else in the world can do so as well. Of course, such subject matter shouldn't come as a surprise, since Flogging Molly is known for their awareness of sociopolitical issues and their willingness to be open about it in their songs, which is one of the many things that fans have grown to love about them.
And then there's the band's less serious side.
For instance, King demonstrated his mischievous early on when he admitted to the crowd that he didn't have anything green to wear. He quickly remedied the situation, however. "You bastards have [green] everywhere," King said as he pulled out a green necklace to don for the remainder of the night.
Even when it seemed as though the already rowdy energy of the crowd couldn't get any more intense, things really revved up when banjo player Robert Schmidt started playing the familiar intro to "Drunken Lullabies" and got the crowd jumping up and down and singing in unison at the top of their lungs. It was a massive St. Patrick's sing-along to one of Flogging Molly's most famous songs.
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The audience kept up the St. Paddy's Day spirit as the band dished out one great song after another, like "Life in a Tenement Square" led by Bridget Regan on the tin whistle and "Saints & Sinners" led by bassist Nathen Maxwell.
Flogging Molly then set aside their electric instruments for the moment and performed an acoustic set to slow things down just a wee bit. It included "This Present State of Grace," "The Son Never Shines (On Closed Doors)" and "Us of Lesser Gods."
King made sure to point out guitarist Dennis Casey's 12-string acoustic, which he managed to play with great ease while jumping up and down. The Flogging Molly frontman offered similar antics himself and he set down his guitar to grace the crowd with a perfectly executed Irish jig.
Once the band plugged itself back in and returned the swing of things, King took a few moments to dedicate "The Rare Ould Times" to Luke Kelly, the noted Irish folk musician and singer who passed away in 1984, and offered a similar honor to the late folk guitarist and activist Pete Seeger before "Rise Up."
Throughout the night, King also made sure to pay tribute to the troops and salute them for their service to our country and had even dedicated "Son Never Shines" to his mother, who will be turning 92 this year because, as he claims, she smoked 20 cigarettes and drank half a bottle of Jameson a day. King also amusingly noted that his mum would probably "murder me if she ever saw me drinking Guinness from a can."
Speaking of the adverse effects of alcohol consumption, the Flogging Molly frontman warned the crowd a few times about the nasty hangovers they're all bound to have when they woke up the following morning. His advice? Do as the Irish do and call in sick to work.
So as Flogging Molly's last-ever Green 17 show in Tempe came to a bittersweet close with a performance of their signature hit, "If I Ever Leave This World Alive," people were still blissfully and drunkenly dancing and singing along, collectively heading towards their mutual fates of massive hangovers that will be both well-earned and well-deserved.
Personal Bias: I can't really say I have any bias. I've never really listened to Flogging Molly too heavily (although I know their music), so I didn't go into this show with any fan-girl feelings or expectations, which really made this a fun experience.
The Crowd: Green everywhere! Everybody had green hats, hair, beards, pants, and kilts. I mean, it was St. Paddy's Day, so good job, everyone!
Overheard: (To me): "You're awesome. Seriously, you're really awesome!" I don't know what I did, but thank you, laddie, you're awesome too.
One More Thing: As a completely sober spectator, it was really amusing to watch all of the drunk people try to dance an Irish jig.
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