Darren ‘Smokie’ Dawson
The Forum Theatre, Melbourne
October, 2011

Macca, his brother-in-law and I meet up with Graeme and Tucky in the main bar of Young and Jackson’s. Jack has pulled the pin, so in a moment of generosity I offer the spare ticket to my eldest son John, and he accepts it geefully. He will catch up to us after we have downed a few heart-starters (in the shape of pints). It seems like every second person in Y & J’s is wearing “Dropkick Murphys T-shirt. As is Macca. As am I. Age is no barrier when it comes to true fandom.

I’ve always felt a unique mixture of excitement and anticipation when I am about to witness one of my favourite bands live. Tonight is no exception, as The Dropkick Murphys have been one of my favourites for some years now. Throw into the mix the fact that tonight’s venue, The Forum, is probably my favourite live music venue. It holds many memories, the most unusual of which is seeing  the movie E.T. – back when it was a picture-house – with my first girlfriend. Tonight it is packed, sold-out, the first of the Murphys’ two Melbourne shows. Macca and I are perturbed neither by the venue’s practice of pouring Carlton Draught stubbies into plastic cups nor by the price. “Whose shout is it?” someone calls above the din.

9:30, half-charged, excited as schoolboys, the familiar intro of Sinead O’Connor’s Foggy Dew belting out. And all of a sudden the curtain falls and there they are, launching into Hang Em High, driven along by Scruffy Wallace’s bagpipes. I am standing next to my sixteen-year-old son. My wife and I took he and his brothers along to see the Indigo Girls earlier in the year, but this is an altogether different experience. He seems to be silently digesting the whole spectacle. After the third song, I have stopped singing (shouting) long enough to ask him what he thinks. “Good,” he nods.

Macca has disappeared down into the mosh-pit, and after a couple of more tracks I follow him into the heaving mass. It’s sweaty, it’s sticky, it’s hot. But you definitely feel close to the band. Ten minutes of being pushed, prodded and yanked in all directions is enough for me. Although the set-list borrows heavily from their new album Going Out In Style, the crowd welcome every song as if it is a personal favourite. There is a celebratory feel among the punters, and thankfully the mosh-pit feels a little less threatening than the last time I saw them.

Boston’s Dropkick Murphys are an awesome live band. They tour the globe relentlessly, playing (by my estimation) upwards of a hundred shows a year. With influences ranging from The Pogues to The Clash, their sound could best be described as Celtic punk. As a seven-piece, they generate quite a sound, and the walls of The Forum were surely screaming out for sympathy by the end of the night. The show was brilliant; the band did not miss a beat. As they grow older, I reckon they are becoming more versatile, with an interesting new development being an acoustic interlude, during which the band position themselves on stools and slow the pace down a little. Two lead singers – Al Barr and bassist Ken Casey – only adds to the band’s flexibility. Truth be told, when you are seeing one of your favourite bands live, it really would take a lot to go wrong for you to come away disappointed.

By the time of the opening strains of Shipping Up To Boston (best known in these parts as the soundtrack to an Australian Rules football advertisement), the crowd is in raptures. It is the cue for my son John to enter the mosh-pit, and at his urging, I bravely follow. A huge rendition of AC/DC’s T.N.T. to finish up, crowd in raucous sing-along voice, and I am suddenly thinking “How good is this? I am moshing with the Dropkick Murphys, and my son.”

This story was first published at our partner site The Footy Almanac.

My parents were children of the Beatles generation. I had little choice but to love music. Regular contributor to partner site The Footy Almanac. My Stereo Stories debut was Before Too Long by Paul Kelly.