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Flogging Molly an Irish success at Legends

Sean Sweany | Monday, April 30, 2007

It’s likely that few events in the history of Legends were as anticipated as Thursday’s Flogging Molly concert.

This was the event for which Legends set up an overflow tent on its patio, complete with projection TVs and sound equipment. This was the event that had people lining up hours beforehand in the pouring rain to get a good spot inside.

This was the event that delivered.

Flogging Molly – one of the world’s premier Irish bands – gave a concert that lived up to the expectations, bringing down the packed house with its high-energy performance and intense music.

The band may be labeled as punk rock, but it certainly doesn’t act like it. Flogging Molly doesn’t play so loud and fast that you can’t actually hear what’s going on, nor are its lyrics overly angry or violent. Sure, it’s fast paced and not as gentle as The Chieftains, but the band is smart enough to play at a level where all of its many instruments come together to contribute to the performance.

Dave King (lead vocals and guitar) and Bridget Regan (fiddle and tin whistle) stood out as the anchors of the group, and also its most talented members.

King is a great host, mixing in touching stories about his youth in Ireland with jokes about having to drink his beer out of a plastic blue Legends cup. He has that distinctive voice of a great Irish storyteller and used it very well Thursday night.

Regan is hands down one of the best fiddle players around – something you really notice a lot more in a live concert compared to Flogging Molly’s CDs. All the other instruments seemed to play off her fiddle for most of the show, and she even held her ground when she switched to the tin whistle. Regan wins the Most Valuable Performer award.

There were quite a lot of diehard Flogging Molly fans at Legends, and the band didn’t disappoint by playing most of its popular songs, including “Drunken Lullabies,” “Rebels of the Sacred Heart” and “What’s Left of the Flag.” For the encore, the acoustic introduction to “Black Friday Rule” was the only thing that managed to calm the Legends crowd on the night – and that lasted for only a few minutes until the whole band brought the energy back to a raucous frenzy.

Kudos to Flogging Molly for putting on an amazing show at such a small venue – and for putting up with what it did. Band members made the best of their plastic beer cups, a leaky roof and poor crowd control, constantly cracking jokes and keeping everything light-hearted.

That brings me to my one complaint about the night: Legends.

I’m thrilled that a name as big as Flogging Molly was brought in for a show – something like this should happen much more regularly. I think it’s great that the tent was set up to accommodate the large crowd, and its too bad the band didn’t want the back doors opened so those people could see inside.

The club clearly wasn’t expecting that such a large crowd would be excited, possibly drunk and hard to control (who knew?) and didn’t have any barricades set up between the crowd and the band. Because of this, work lights were on for 20 minutes or so while barriers were put in place – a nuisance, but a good move overall. In the end, the concert was handled very well, and I think Legends will learn from this next time. (Maybe we can fix that leaky roof too, perhaps?)

There’s no doubt that the concert was a great success. This was a great band for a small, intimate setting like Legends and it gave an unforgettable performance. Flogging Molly needs to be invited back, and it needs to be soon.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Sean Sweany at ssweany@nd.edu