Dropkick Murphys rock Boston; Head to New York.

As the Boston Herald reports on the six straigh Boston shows, New York prepares for three killer performances at Irving Plaza at the end of the week (plus one in New Jersey Tuesday)! Check out the brand new 'Singles Collection, Vol. 2' just released on Hellcat Records.

Dropkicks rule: Avalon stand cements their place as Hub rock icons

You may never get them to admit it, but after plugging away for years as Boston's scrappy Irish punk underdogs, the Dropkick Murphys have become Boston rock icons.

Their five-night, six-show, sold-out run at Avalon that ended Sunday stated their case quite clearly. In a little less than a decade, the band's working-class anthems and legendary crowd camaraderie have created a fan base so passionate that no other Boston band can compete.

Consider Drew Melvin, a U.S. Army soldier stationed at Fort Sill in Oklahoma and a fan since 1997. He burned all his time off to catch five of the shows.

``I had seven days of leave saved up, so I thought what better way to spend it than with the Dropkicks?'' said Melvin.

The 23-year-old from Franklin just spent five months in Iraq at a base outside of Fallujah.

``We were getting shot at like four times a week, so it was a motivational tool for me to listen to the Murphys. They reminded me of home,'' said Melvin. ``I was the driver of a Humvee and we'd blast tunes like `Finnegans Wake' and `Blackout' through the loudspeakers as we were getting shot at.''

On Sunday night, the final show at the crammed-to-capacity Avalon, Melvin was in the crowd as the Dropkicks pulled out all the stops, including a gaggle of Irish step-dancing girls and a full bagpipe and traditional drum corps. Their opening tune, ``For Boston'' created instant pandemonium, the floor turning into a sweat-drenched scene from ``Lord of the Flies.''

Why not a bigger venue? Guitarist Marc Orrell said, ``I actually prefer it to be all chaotic and closed in with people hanging off the ceiling, rather than some enormous Madison Square Garden or something.''

The fans' loyalty borders on lunacy. Lead singer Al Barr said it's a two-way street. ``We've always felt that the audience is a member of the band, so when we pour our passion into playing, they see that and it brings the fire out in them. We're so dependent on our crowd.''

Added guitarist James Lynch, ``We're not singing about coke and strippers, we're just singing about normal everyday life. What you see is what you get with us, and I think people respond to that.''

Last year everyday life for most Bostonians focused on the Red Sox. The Dropkicks' remake of the song ``Tessie'' became the unofficial anthem to last year's world championship season, and drummer Matt Kelly joked that the band takes ``full credit.'' No coincidence that more than half of the fans bouncing off each other on the floor Sunday sported Sox gear.

It's not all fun and games, though. The Dropkicks have made no bones about their disapproval of the war and the current president, but as bassist/vocalist Ken Casey said during Sunday's show, ``Whatever your position on the war, you gotta support our troops over there.'' Nowadays, almost every band makes this statement at some point in a concert. But the Dropkicks back it up.

When Andrew Farrar, a dedicated Dropkicks fan, was killed fighting in Iraq, his younger brother Nathan contacted the band through their Web site asking for a favor. Andrew had written a letter home stating that if anything should happen to him, he wanted ``The Fields of Athenry'' a Dropkicks staple, to be played at his funeral. Logistics prevented the Dropkicks from performing live, so the band recorded a special acoustic version of the tune.

Says Nathan Farrar, ``Ken (Casey) was the last person to show up at the wake, coming straight from the recording studio. He tucked the CD under Andrew's arm and then gave a copy to the family. We were complete strangers and they reached out and helped us more than we could believe. Those guys are not your typical rock stars. I can't say enough about them. They couldn't have been more generous or compassionate.''

The Farrar family was invited to be a guest of the band Sunday night, and witnessed them coercing the entire crowd to sing a reverent version of ``The Fields of Athenry'' in tribute to Andrew.

Icons. Book it.

By Christopher Blagg
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