Dropkick Murphys at The Fillmore in Detroit, MI

The long-awaited Dropkick Murphys tour makes its way to Detroit with high energy Celtic punk rock and even higher middle fingers. 

It’s been two years since Dropkick Murphys brought their signature brand of Celtic rock to Detroit. Judging by the hordes of fans decked in scally caps, Doc Martens, and kilts lined up around the block of The Fillmore and packed in bars nearby before the show, it might as well have been a decade or more. The band was finally back in town supporting the release of their 2021 album Turn Up That Dial. Other than co-frontman Al Barr bowing out of the tour to help care for his ailing mother, the show went on without skipping a beat.  

Boston-based solo artist Jesse Ahern kicked off the night with a gritty acoustic set. His raspy, almost Tom Waits-esque voice and populist lyrics were well-matched for a blue-collar, working-class city like Detroit. 

Next up, and fresh off the release of their latest album Brass for GoldThe Rumjacks reminded the crowd what Celtic punk rock is all about. Traditional bagpipes and tin whistle folk sounds merged with heavy guitar riffs and a pounding drum beat to bring the crowd to a frenzy. 

The Bombpops switched gears by giving the crowd a break from the Celtic-punk sounds that everyone came to hear. Their southern California pop-punk vibes served as a palette cleanser for the main act, with lead singer Jen Razavi engaging the crowd between songs with some playful innuendo-tinged banter.

By the time Dropkick Murphys took the stage, the venue was packed tight. There was barely room to move on the main floor, and just a seat or two remained open on the balcony. The boys kicked off the set with Lee Forshner belting out the classic “Cadence To Arms” on the bagpipes. The moshing kicked off as the band segued into “Do or Die,” followed immediately by “Barroom Hero.”  

Lead singer Ken Casey reminded the crowd that those first three songs were off their first studio album and that Detroit always had a special place in the band’s heart after the support shown at their early shows at classic Detroit venues like The Shelter.  

By the time Ken started chanting out “The Boys are Back,” the fans were surfing across the crowd while beer cans flew overhead. Later in the set, the band brought out their opening acts to join them on stage. Together they played Ahern’s “Caught in a Jar,” The Rumjacks’ “Worker’s Song” and The Bombpops’ “The Dirty Glass.” 

As the night drew to a close, the Dropkick Murphys then performed their 2013 hit “Rose Tattoo,” followed immediately with the well-timed “Kiss Me, I’m Sh*tfaced” because by that time a number of fans were indeed quite sh*tfaced.

Of course, no Dropkick show is complete without the Celtic punk anthem “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” The crowd chanted along with the full force of 3,000 drunken Irishmen and women. It was the perfect end to a long-awaited night. 

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About Jena McShane 27 Articles
Jena McShane is a Lansing, MI based photographer specializing in candid portraiture, live music, and stormy landscapes.