Dropkick Murphys have come a long way since their birth in Boston’s 90s hardcore punk scene. This slot, on Download’s Zippo Encore stage, was one of the band’s biggest UK festival appearances to date – as well as being an adventurous booking for Andy Copping and co.
And the Murphys’ Pogueish brand of Celt punk certainly provided a refreshing Sunday afternoon tipple, more Irish Stout and fiddles than Jagermeister and Flying Vs.
As the band have matured, they’ve leant more towards their traditional Irish influences and on Sunday they delivered a set brimming with rabble rousers such as The Irish Rover, The State of Massachusetts and Captain Kelly’s Kitchen.
A pitiful guitar sound dampened the Murphys’ initial impact, but thankfully the volume was cranked up by the time ACDC’s TNT was aired – a respectful nod to Donington’s heritage, it was a nice touch and belted out with gusto by co-vocalist Al Barr (fittingly sporting a flat cap).
Crowd pleaser I’m Shipping Up To Boston (made famous in crime flick, The Departed), closed a typically exuberant performance from the seven piece, accompanied by the amusing “to find my wooden leg” refrain, sang back to the band by an audience clearly enjoying a day of beer and sunshine.
Granted, Dropkick Murphys are more at home on a club stage but they didn’t seem out of place at this year’s Download. And for a band wielding accordions, banjos and bagpipes, that’s quite an achievement.