Flogging Molly, One Man Army: Live at the Troubadour 12/6/02 By Sara Isett

Jan 27, 2002

Maybe it was the couple in front of me who really should have gotten a room. Or perhaps it's those two veins in his neck that pop out and beg to be licked whenever the singer of One Man Army sings, but last night's Flogging Molly/One Man Army show was a decidedly erotic experience. Not what I was expecting, but I'll take my heat and steaminess as it finds me.

Delicious looking veins pulsating beneath sweaty skin aside, I've always thought that this world is a nicer place to live in when there is at least one really good Clash sound-alike band in existence. That band would have to be One Man Army. Their records tend to suffer from the common punk rock syndrome "all the songs sound the same" but live these boys rock hard. They play lean, raw, aching punk that spurts straight from their collective heart. Onstage the spit and sweat flew and the songs washed over the audience like a great slippery gob of the same.

And the songs came in great quantity, too. It was just the two bands playing at the Troubadour, fresh off their 6-week tour with the Bouncing Souls, so One Man Army got to play a longer set than usual. It was their last show and they played with good dirty hedonistic abandon. Like they were thinking, "tomorrow we're going home but tonight we rock." The drummer especially, I might add. But then, he always does. He's got that rare talent of providing the basic 4/4 thing that any good punk band needs as an anchor but doing it tight enough and hard enough to make it seem not quite so basic. The last song they played was especially fine. The accordion player and guitarist from Flogging Molly joined them and the two additional musicians gave the song an epic quality. Their set was fun and frenetic and I can't wait for the next time they come to town.

And, because I'm a girl and notice these sorts of things, he really does have the most glorious head of hair in punk rock.

Sometime over the course of the evening I decided that Flogging Molly would not be Flogging Molly if it weren't for the fiddle player. She rocks. She is not the most lively person on stage, generally not the one you watch, but what she and her violin add to the band is the very thing that sets Flogging Molly above the fray of other Pogues- or Oi-inspired bands: fervor. The quiet, seething beneath the surface kind.

A good Flogging Molly show is like a spiritual experience. Maybe it's the bass player's habit of playing with his eyes shut, his mouth slack like a martyr amidst a religious ecstasy, or the way the mandolin's player ferociously mouths song lyrics when he's no where near his mic, but the band members so often seem to be outside themselves when they play: caught up in it all and oblivious to anything but the music and a frenzied, hungry crowd that feeds off their energy, hungry for more.

When they first began to play, my friend and I were still upstairs, enjoying our drinks. We came down the stairs as the first notes sounded and to see the crowd from above was to see them as the happy, seething mass of humanity they were. They were writhing as one in anticipation and I thought: now, that's a goddamn audience! Before the first song was over it was clear that this would be one of those religious shows. Spirits would lift. Much joy would be had.

The band played a fabulous set and like One Man Army before them, they played long and vigorously. The singer was chatty and the band in general was in obvious good spirits that translated to the songs - a few new ones and a great deal from their first studio album, Swagger.

In fact, spirits were so uniformly high I was compelled to go into the pit, an event that has not happened in a good 3 or 4 years. It was a pit of the best punk rock kind. No jocks, no bullies, and no aggressive 20-something boys in desperate need of a cure for testosterone poisoning. I fell and was fallen upon and everyone was helped up, looked after, and thrown gleefully forward. Which is not say that it was gentle or kind. Bodies slammed, fists flew and bruises were happily collected.

After several encores, the show finally came to a close. We left sweaty, bedraggled, and thoroughly satisfied.