This year's St. Patrick's Day party unofficially started Tuesday night at Flogging Molly's sold out show at the Pageant. From beginning to end, the show was an absolute blast. Dave King, lead singer, could arguably be one of the most cheerful and dynamic band leaders out there. He kept the crowd with him the entire show with funny one-liners and quick background stories about songs. He also pointed out individual people in the crowd and commented on their Ireland flag face paint, or their specific actions, always comedic and all in good fun.
King was quite the showman: approaching the front edge of the stage to fist pump, or raise his open arms to encourage the crowd to sing along or join him as he choreographed the swaying of arms in the air during the song, "Whistles the Wind." And who can resist an Irishman doing a jig or two? He high-stepped in place, or walked in strides with his guitar around the stage, reminiscent of Johnny Cash, and once or twice he put his thumbs through his belt loops and danced a little jig yelling, "Yeeeaaah!!" as he danced around the stage. Toward the end of the show, he sang while holding a tall can of, naturally, Guinness.
Let's move on to the ROCK. This band, all seven band members: Dave King (lead singer and acoustic guitar), Bridget Regan (fiddle and tin whistle), Robert Schmidt (mandolin and banjo), Nathen Maxwell (bass guitar), George Schwindt (drums), Matt Hensley (accordion), and Dennis Casey (guitar), was beyond good, beyond great, this band was mind blowing. They played more than 20 songs, both old and new, and every one of them was solid and played with remarkable precision.
Part of the appeal in Irish rock is the contrast in texture. A song can start out with the quiet beauty of a fiddle and an acoustic guitar, or a pick of the banjo -- and then it pauses -- and then the song explodes into electric guitars and vigorous drums and an accordion (Oh yes, he exemplified cool with those ebony and ivory keys!), a mandolin and a lead singer who can sing and even yell lyrics, and it works. It works very well. The guitarists both approached the edge of the stage repeatedly too, getting up close and personal with fans and adding to the overall aura of the show.
The band and the crowd reciprocated colossal adrenaline and energy. The mosh pit was going strong and fed off the heavy guitar work and thundering emerald drums. The crowd danced and the pit charged harder during songs such as "Drunken Lullabies," "Tobacco Island," "Rare Ould Times," and "Swagger," to mention a few. King dedicated "Rise Up" to the late Pete Seeger, and honored his own mother by singing the quieter tune, "The Son Never Shines (on Closed Doors)."
The band's appearance is worth mentioning. Well-dressed in nice pants, button-up shirts, classy vests and stylish hats, they looked professional and classy, clean cut, yet they absolutely rocked! Small details like the bass player's green shoe laces and the accordion player's red socks and matching red suspenders showed their spirited personalities.
The show never faltered throughout, and the energy compounded as it went on, leading up to fan favorite, "What's Left of the Flag," again sending the audience into a happy free-for-all dance or mosh. This led to the encore break, and kudos to the audience for creating one of the loudest call backs I've ever witnessed. Fans clapped in sync and then broke into singing, "Ole' ole' ole' ole'," which sent goose bumps down the spine and brought King back out, and he showed his true appreciation for the chant. He resumed the show alone with his guitar, but then was rejoined by the band and they wrapped up the night with the sentiment of their song, "If I Ever Leave This World Alive."
Flogging Molly put on an outstanding rock show and certainly revved up St. Louis to celebrate Irish traditions next week. They were fun, well put together, incredible musicians, interactive with the audience, and to be honest, I had to put my notebook down more than once to partake in a little jig. It's impossible to stand still with amazing Irish rock overtaking the room!
Lastly, Flogging Molly expressed their gratitude for the years of fan support and offered peace signs, tips of the hat, bows and King joyfully toasted the audience with, Sláinte!" the Irish toast to good health.