Concert Review: Dropkick Murphys and Bryan McPherson

Taken by Juan Barragan

Taken by Juan Barragan

Juan Barragan

Dropkick Murphys / Bryan McPherson

House of Blues San Diego

November 10, 2014


Although we are still months away from St. Patrick’s Day, the Dropkick Murphys decided to give San Diego a dose of Irish themed rock. It would be somewhat of an early show, but no one seemed to care, because even on a Monday night, fans were able to sell out the venue easily. Their enthusiasm didn’t stop there, as hundreds of fans were lined up hours before doors opened with a line so long that it even went around the corner. Once the doors opened and people started to pour inside, it wasn’t long before the first act of the night, Bryan McPherson, took the stage to play for a packed audience, a rarity that not many opening acts get to do at that venue.

Bryan McPherson, with an acoustic guitar strapped on his shoulder and a harmonica rig around his head, walked on stage precisely at seven to get the crowd going for the night. The crowd was ready for some music, and even though McPherson’s music didn’t feature distorted guitars and punk rock rhythms that everyone was expecting, there was something about the songs that caused the crowd to get riled up, in a good way. McPherson puts a lot of soul into his singing, and the crowd can easily tell this and enjoy it. It’s common for people to heckle artists at these types of shows, and that’s precisely what happened when McPherson announced that he was playing, “Worker’s Song.” The crowd probably thought that he was going to play the Dropkick Murphys’ song of the same name, but McPherson explained that there are many songs with the same name out there, and even suggested that they should start numbering them. The song is from his sophomore album, American Boy / American Girl, which was released in 2012. He followed this song with, “I See A Flag,” from the same album. McPherson’s lyrics focus on a lot of social issues that seem to resonate with a lot of Americans right now, which is one of the reasons why the crowd instantly fell in love with McPherson’s songs. He tackled issues like police brutality, gay rights, and income inequality, among other issues that are currently plaguing our nation. By the time McPherson was done with his set, the crowd wanted him to keep on playing. At the end of the day though, McPherson was able to get the crowd really stoked for Dropkick Murphys, who were taking the stage shortly after him.

Eventually, the lights dimmed, which was everyone’s sign to get ready for the Dropkick Murphys who were about to take the stage. The band had a soundtrack playing of a woman singing a beautiful, classical rendition of, “The Foggy Dew.” During this time, the stage was empty, but once the song ended, the whole band came out and all hell broke loose to the sound of, “The Boys Are Back,” from their most recent album, Signed And Sealed In Blood. According to accounts by members of the security force, that show was the most brutal show they were expecting all year, and around 8 security guards lined up in front to try and keep order. The crowd wasn’t having any of it, however. The punk-rock tempo kicked into effect and the mosh spiraled in a frenzy never seen before seen at the House of Blues. The crowd kept it classy, however, as whenever anyone fell down, not a second passed by before people were already looking out to put the fallen guy back on his feet. The band wasted no time in trying to get the crowd going, and unleashed, “The State Of Massachusetts,” followed by, “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya,” both hits from their album, The Meanest Of Times. Both songs were met with a level of crowd interaction that was deafening, as thousands of fans sang along at the top of their lungs. Near the end of their set, Dropkick Murphys set out to play some last songs so that every fan in attendance could finish losing their voice while singing along. “Rose Tattoo,” was the first song that caused this. This song was a great song to clap to as well, and dozens of fans did just that during the slower verses, before going back into mosh-mode during the final breakdown of the song. The highlight of the night for everybody was hearing “I’m Shipping Up To Boston,” since that was the song everybody knew. It was around this time that the band decided they were short on company on stage. About a hundred people rushed the stage to help the band sing the last couple of songs. One of these was, “Worker’s Song,” not the McPherson version, but the band’s own version of the song, and the crowd went absolutely wild for this one, singing every lyric without missing a beat. One of the band’s final songs was the ballad “Kiss Me, I’m Sh*t Faced,” which was a perfect way to put everyone in attendance in the mood to continue the festivities after the show, most likely in a romantic way.

Altogether, that show was probably the most fun the House of Blues San Diego has seen take place at their venue on a Monday. Hopefully both artists grace this city with their presence soon, because the show was a blast.