“Irish music is guts, balls and feet music, yeah? It’s frenetic dance music, yeah?” – Shane MacGowan
Remember this date “June 9th, 2018”. That was the day the Stir Cove in Council Bluffs, IA had to be rebuilt. Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys and Stiff Little Finger lead vocalist Jake Burns, collectively tore up the venue. It was 90 degrees plus and the outdoor setting was packed with a sell-out crowd of over 4,200.
Jake Burns is a legend in the Irish-punk scene. He and his band Stiff Little Fingers formed in Belfast in 1997. This man has been around and seen and written about things we are lucky enough not to have lived through. Tonight, however he gave us a brilliant acoustic set which really allowed us to focus on the lyrics of the six Stiff Little Fingers songs in his set. He closed with Alternative Ulster which is a song about living during what was known as “The Troubles”, also known as the Northern Ireland conflict. “Take a look where you’re livin’ – You got the Army on your street – And the RUC dog of repression – Is barking at your feet.” It was a real pleasure to hear Jake Burns sing about his experiences and Jake, just case you read this (although unlikely) let me say this. “I WANNA BE A MAGPIE RANGER. GO MAGPIES!!
Jake Burns Set List:
WASTED LIFE – SILVER LINING – NOBODY’S HERO – SUSPECT DEVICE – BARLEY AND GRAPE RAG – ALTERNATIVE ULSTER
Flogging Molly are a Celtic punk band that lean a little more toward traditional then Dropkick Murphys who are a bit harder and whose sound has more muscle to it. One by one Flogging Molly took the stage and as they did so, the energy from crowd grew and grew. The intro music played as each member of the band made their way to their respective spots and when the intro song ended, they blasted us with Paddy’s Lament. Immediately the crowd turned into a mass of bodies jumping and spinning. Front-man Dave King is literally all over the stage, left, right, front and back, and all the while drinking his Guinness. Dave loves to engage the crowd, toasting us through-out the evening. He even took moment to recognize a young boy who was there with his father. Flogging Molly fans are loyal and can sing every lyric of every song. During Drunken Lullabies and Devils Dance Floor the crowd nearly drowned out the band. Flogging Molly’s music is happy and fun. It’s festive and you almost feel like you’re in an Irish pub participating in sing-songs. Of course, as you look at the crowd you see tons of Irish flair. Buttons, shamrocks, kilts, and my God, so many Green T-shirts. They fully entertained us from start to finish, the show could have ended right then and there and we all would have went home happy and fulfilled. But there was more to come….
Flogging Molly Set List:
PADDY’S LAMENT – JOHN L SULLIVAN – DRUNKEN LULLABIES – LIKES OF YOU AGAIN – SWAGGER – THE DAYS WE’VE YET TO MEET – REQUIUM FOR A DYING SONG – FLOAT – BLACK FRIDAY RULE – DEVILS DANCE FLOOR – CRUSHED – WORLD ALIVE – WHAT’S LEFT OF THE FLAG – SEVEN DEADLY SINS – SALTY DOG
The more to come would be Dropkick Murphys. By now the sun had set, but we were all still drenched in sweat after what Flogging Molly put us through. Before the band took the stage we were all starring a large black curtain. As soon as the curtain fell, the energy level raised. The band appears brilliantly back lit on a tiered stage. The effect was tremendous. Right from the start, this band has established their presence at full force. They not only do this just being themselves, but behind them as a huge video screen that continuously displayed incredible images. A typical Dropkick Murphys fan can be described as furious, enthusiastic and rambunctious. The band and their fans completely understand each other and know exactly what they are going to get from each other. The band will supply the juice and crowd will supply the movement. A little bit of moshing and surfing was present, but not out of control. Al Barr and Ken Casey shared lead vocal and were pouncing from the stage to railing standing above the lucky crowd members who were able to get up front. The microphone was shoved into the crowd several times, but on one occasion Ken Casey, who noticed one fan who was singing every lyric of every song, basically gave him the microphone for a verse or two. At the end, Flogging Molly joined Dropkick Murphys on stage and the place went ballistic. During the last song, Kiss Me, I’m Really Drunk”, the staged became filled with women from the audience. Confetti flew, and it was done. And so were we. I waited a bit before leaving and as I left, I saw the damage done and said to myself. Now they really do have to rebuild this place. Then again, leave it as it is as a memento to what occurred. Well done to all the bands and well done to Stir Cove.
Dropkick Murphys Setlist:
The Lonesome Boatman | The Boys Are Back | Prisoner’s Song | Famous For Nothing | Blood | Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya | Barroom Hero | Caught in a Jar | Buried Alive | Out of Our Heads | Sandlot | Paying My Way | Rocky Road to Dublin ([traditional] cover) | Rose Tattoo | The State of Massachusetts | Going Out in Style
The Body of an American (The Pogues cover) | I’m Shipping Up To Boston | Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced | Skinhead on the MBTA | Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (AC/DC cover)
– Dean Birkheimer, Photojournalist for Go Venue Magazine