CD Review: Dropkick Murphys

Live on Lansdowne, Boston MA CD + DVD (Born & Bred)

Every March in their hometown of Boston, Irish-American blue-collar punks Dropkick Murphys play several nights of sold-out, St. Patrick's-Day-season concerts. This CD/DVD documents their 2009 shows. Emphasizing the group's most recent albums, the set is totally different from the tracks on the band's first St. Patty's-in-Boston live release from 2002. Because so much of the Murphys' identity stems from their down-to-earth connection with fans, an ongoing series of live albums makes great sense. The DVD production suffers from chunky, pixelized video. That annoyance aside, the video takes the CD's great-sounding audio and communicates a massive scale and warmth that's better than the visuals.

For these dates, the Murphys drew from a pool of local friends for a bigger spectacle than they'd ever take on tour. The group's ethnic punk style is embellished with appearances by six extra bagpipers, a string quartet and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Live on Lansdowne's most unforgettable number, "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya," includes a troupe of young girls from the Forbes Academy of Irish Dance. With bizarre, haunting juxtaposition, the innocent sprites in garish, sparkly dresses bounce through the Murphys' blasting punk noise and the traditional Irish anti-war song's dark lyrics. — Michael David Toth

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