In the mid-1980s young singer David King, with curly hair nearly to his waist, was doing his best Robert Plant imitation in the Epic/CBS hard rock band Fastway, opening arena shows for the likes of Rush and AC/DC and trying to fill the void left by Led Zeppelin.
These days Dave King has reclaimed his Irish singing accent, he sports a buzz haircut and he fronts the rising L.A.-based Irish folk-punk band Flogging Molly, which formed a couple of years back at the bar at Molly Malone’s on Fairfax.
And as unlikely as an Irish band from Hollywood fronted by a Dublin-born former heavy metal singer may sound, Flogging Molly plays a festive and robust style that matches the energy of punk rock with the sing-along character of traditional Irish folk songs, and in concert the rare blend is simply irresistible.
At the first of three sold-out West Hollywood shows, the start of a two-month U.S. itinerary, the septet threw a 90-minute party celebrating love, land and libations for a rowdy and loving packed house that was in the band’s back pocket from start to finish.
To the right of King, who sang and played acoustic guitar, was Nathan Maxwell, a Sid Vicious-style punk bassist with appropriate Mohawk haircut and a half-snarl on his face, and Matt Hensley, a mad accordion player with tattoos up and down his arms. On his left was Bridget Regan on violin and various flutes and whistles, banjo player Bob Schmidt and electric guitarist Dennis Casey.
“Every day is St. Patrick’s Day,” King shouted as the crowd buzzed from the opening double shot of “Drunken Lullabies,” the title track from band’s upcoming second album, and “Selfish Man,” from its 2000 debut “Swagger” (Side One Dummy Records). Cans of Guinness stout littered the stage and were held aloft by the enthused attendees, most of whom knew all the words.
“The Worst Day Since Yesterday,” which King said was about “waking up with a hangover,” was dedicated to the cop who pulled the band over on the way to the gig (and who gave them a $250 ticket), while the inspirational “Black Friday Rule” was dedicated to New York City. “I want to believe in a freedom that’s bold/but all I remember is the freedom of old,” sang King.
Fun show, which also featured the Slackers and Blue Collar Special, closed with the encore “Rare Oul’ Times,” a decidedly rambunctious ditty that pines for old Dublin City.
Flogging Molly plays NYC’s Bowery Ballroom April 14-15, and will perform on the main stage of this summer’s Vans Warped tour.