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Flogging Molly, The Loved Ones & Beat Union

The crowd at the Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA

As chance would have it, I was invited to two different shows featuring Irish influenced music:

It's a coincidence like this that can really make you think... think about how folk music influences society and think about how society influences folk music.

School Of Rock
A School Of Rock show is always a good time. If you need faith and hope in the future restored, just check out one of their concerts. The U2 concert is a good example. The program notes include "The success of U2 as a band is only part of their story. They have consisitently used their fame and notoriety to draw attention to a wide range of causes from Amnesty International to debt forgiveness for third world nations. Just imagine the world that we might live in if Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears had such philanthropic instinctfss... Hmmm... Perhaps we should dream a different dream."

The kids put on one heck of show. A large, overhead multimedia screen was a nice addition to the stage show. They played 25 U2 songs that covered the band's entire career, such as Pride, I Will Follow, Beautiful Day, Bullet The Blue Sky, Gloria and Vertigo. But coincidently, they played one of my favorite songs as the finale, Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Flogging Molly

Folk Music
As coincidences continued to collide, several days later I was invited to another Irish rooted concert, Flogging Molly. Can you guess what song was playing during the pre-show music? Yes, Sunday Bloody Sunday. The person standing next to me turned and said, "This is one of my favorite songs."

It must be more than just coincidence the way these things are all interconnected? U2's music is based on the music they grew up around. U2 developed their own style of music based on their Irish folk roots. Then, they write their own folk music about the real world events that surround them -- a song like Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Some might question calling it folk music. Isn't it more like pop-rock?

Folk music can have a number of different meanings, including:
* Traditional music -- the original meaning of the term "folk music" was synonymous with the term "Traditional music", also often including World Music and Roots music.
* Folk music can also describe a particular kind of popular music which is based on traditional music. In contemporary times, this kind of folk music is often performed by professional musicians. Related genres include Folk rock and Progressive folk music.
* Folk songs are commonly seen as songs that express something about a way of life that exists now ( or existed in the past, or is about to disappear.)
In the 1960s such singers as Baez, Dylan, Phil Ochs, and Tom Paxton, followed in Woodie Guthrie's footsteps and began writing "protest music" and topical songs, particularly against the Vietnam War.
-- Wikipedia

So, sure. Sunday Bloody Sunday could be considered a folk music song. A song that protests war and promotes peace. "I can't believe the news today. Oh, I can't close my eyes and make it go away.... Broken bottles under children's feet. Bodies strewn across the dead end street. But I won't heed the battle call.... 'cause tonight...we can be as one. Tonight... Tonight... Sunday, bloody Sunday."

"Usually...folk music is associated with a lower class in societies...." -- Charles Seeger

The traditional roots of the music and the working class ethics blend together well with the punk-ska movement, too. Both styles of music are thought of in similar ways. That sort-of descibes the bill for the Electric Factory show, Beat Union, The Loved Ones and Flogging Molly.

Beat Union
Beat Union is a four piece band from Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Redditch, United Kingdom. Their musical influences include The Clash, Elvis Costello, The Jam, Squeeze, Joe Jackson and The Police. In fact, during their song Pressure Zone they broke into The Police's Can't Stand Losing. There is no way that you could stop yourself from dancing.

Speaking of dancing, the whole night was packed with jig inducing music.

The Beat Union's set included the songs This Time, Heart Attack, Dancing in Our Sleep, Pressure Zone, Don't Have Love, Stay on the Line, Disconnected, and Can't Stop the Radio. It was a spirited set with many thanks going out to the audience.

The Loved Ones
The Loved Ones is a punk rock band formed in 2003. Since they are from Philadelphia, the crowd was fairly familiar with the music. It was a full-out rock-out which only fueled serving up more crowd surfers. The bouncers were kind and helped return the surfers to the show. This was kind-of nice in that it appeared to make it less intimidating for the females. (By the end of Flogging Molly, there were probably as many girl's surfing as guys... which is pretty unusual.)

Stage Diving & Crowd Surfing

They list their influences as The Clash, The Beatles, The Ramones, The Police, The Replacements, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Tom Waitts,Tom Petty, Elvis Presley, Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg, D4, The Smiths, Bad Brains, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Carl Perkins, Cheap Trick, Green Day, Rolling Stones, Social Distortion, Ted Leo, Steve Earle, U2, Husker Du, The Misfits, The Cure, The Who, HWM, The Damned, Guns N Roses, Minor Threat, Jawbreaker, Bob Dylan, Bouncing Souls, Joe Jackson, AC/DC, 7 Seconds, Squeeze, Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters.

The setlist included Massive, Living Will, Last Call and Lousina. They, too, broke into a little cover song, Bob Marley's Could Jah Be Loved.

Flogging Molly
"We're not a traditional band," explains Dublin born singer/songwriter, Dave King. "We are influenced by traditional music and inspired by it, and we put our own little twist on it."

The band draws on the hardships and good times of their own lives and combine a musical history ranging from old world Celtic to punk rock. Founded in Los Angeles in 1997, Flogging Molly got its start and its name from a local bar, Molly Malone's. They are almost like an orchastra with their seven piece band that includes a squeeze box, fiddle, mandolin and an occasional tin whistle.

For the Electic Factory show, they packed the house with wall-to-wall people. The conditions couldn't stop the crowd from dancing, singing, jigging and crowd surfing. It started with the last pre-show soundtrack song, The Who's Baba O'Riley. At first, you wouldn't think of speaking about this song in the same breath as Flogging Molly. But then, there is that wild fiddle playing... and with a name like O'Riley, what can you say? "Oh, yeah!" The crowd was whipped into a frenzy before the band even came on stage. Then, the crowd went wild as the band members came into the light followed by one up-beat, back-beat song after another. There wasn't a moment to pause.

Songs in the setlist included Never See The Likes of Me, Requim For a Dying Song, This One's For Red, Selfish Guy, Float, Rebels of the Sacred Heart, Devil's Dance Floor, Winding Storm, If I Ever Leave This World Alive and What's Left of the Flag.

Well, folks, if you get a chance, check out some folk music at a venue near you. Coincidently, it might not be what you expected.

More Pictures

Flogging Molly
Flogging Molly Accordion & Violin
Beat Union
The Loved Ones
The Loved Ones Guitars

The Loved Ones

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