07/17/2008 2:33 PM ET Red Sox Nation dominates McCoy show Dropkick Murphys, Mighty Mighty Bosstones rock Pawtucket By Jay Burke / MLB.com Link
PAWTUCKET, RI -- After Mike Timlin recorded the final out of the Red Sox's 12-1 trouncing of the Baltimore Orioles on July 12, the Fenway Park speakers blared the Standells' "Dirty Water," a tradition after every hometown win. About the same time, 46 miles down I-95 at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI, the Dropkick Murphys were performing the song, delighting a boisterous crowd of more than 10,000, many of them sporting Red Sox, PawSox and Celtics attire.
The Celtic-punk Dropkick Murphys' name has become almost synonymous with the Boston Red Sox. The Dropkicks became the unofficial official Red Sox band during the historical 2004 World Series Championship run with their hit, "Tessie," a re-tooling of a classic Red Sox fan anthem. The band kicked off the 2004 playoffs by performing at "Rally Monday" on the eve of Game 1 of their American League Division Series with Anaheim.
Saturday's show wrapped up a three-night tour of Red Sox Minor-League affiliate stadiums in Portland, Maine, Lowell, Mass., and Pawtucket, and was part of a larger nine-stop tour featuring the Dropkicks, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the Los Angeles band Civet.
The ska-punk Mighty Mighty Bosstones' show was a homecoming for Ocean-Stater frontman Dicky Barrett, who even brought his mother onstage to sing "Happy Birthday" to her. The Boston-based band romped their way through a broad set, highlighted by their 1998 Billboard No. 1 hit "The Impression That I Get," the brassy "Where'd You Go?" and the energetic "Someday I Suppose."
They also covered "The Impossible Dream" from the musical Man of La Mancha. "This song goes out to Carl Yastrzemski and the 1967 Red Sox," Barrett said, referring to the Red Sox Hall of Fame outfielder who helped the team turn around a bottom-dwelling record in 1966 to win the American League pennant -- on the last day of the season.
The performance wasn't nearly as intimate and raucous as the band's sweaty, multi-night "Hometown Throwdown" shows at Cambridge's grungy club, The Middle East. But despite their recent three-year hiatus, Barrett and the Bosstones made it clear that they aren't ready to hang up the plaid suits just yet.
The Dropkicks took the stage next and did not disappoint, working through their hits including "Tessie," All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon's entrance music "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" and songs from their latest album, The Meanest of Times, including "The State of Massachusetts."
The band offered up plenty of visuals, including young Irish dancers, a kilted James "Scruffy" Wallace on bagpipes, fireworks, and a liberal audience participation policy, with a steady stream of fans pouring over the stage-front barriers only to get recycled back into the crowd. Black duds and a cornucopia of green tattoos were de rigueur. A more subdued fan base set up camp in stadium seating overlooking the center field stage.
"McCoy stadium. Who woulda thunk," said bassist/vocalist Ken Casey.
The Dropkick Murphys are no strangers to Fenway Park, having performed at the storied stadium several times. Still, like a Minor-Leaguer making the rounds, busing the MiLB stadium circuit must have felt fitting for Casey, who as a founding member of the band in 1996, could be called a journeyman himself.
One of most appealing qualities of the Dropkick Murphys is their accessibility to fans, a feeling that the guys are "one of us." This was evident at the show's finale as first women, then men, were invited onstage to close out the performance. The Bosstones joined the Dropkicks in the encore, their customary plaid haberdashery replaced with plain black.
When an overzealous fan kicked out a wire, cutting out a powerful speaker on one side of the stage, Casey, while continuing to pluck away at his bass, calmly muscled through a sea of fans and approached a roadie to fix the problem. Nearby, guitarist/vocalist James Lynch, engulfed in a crush of bodies, shielded his six-string between his body and a tall speaker. While the band seemed to take the overtaking of the stage in stride, the expressions on their faces belied a weary tolerance.
Like the Red Sox, the Dropkick Murphys have often been seen as the "everyman's band." What happens, though, when the everyman starts winning and becomes a hero? Fans recovering from the concert woke up to see the Red Sox vaulting themselves back into first place in the American League East on Sunday, the final day before the All-Star break. Slugger David Ortiz is set to begin a Minor-League stadium tour of his own with rehab stints in Portland and Pawtucket.
For now, at least, "The State of Massachusetts" is still a pretty good place to be.
San Francisco Giants fans can catch the Dropkick Murphys and Mighty Mighty Bosstones on Saturday, July 19 in Kelseyville, CA; Dodgers, Angels and Padres fans on Sunday, July 20 in Costa Mesa, CA.
Jay Burke is a Producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.