“We’re off to Greece this weekend – they won’t know what tear gas is until they’ve seen us!” cackles Flogging Molly frontman Dave King, shortly before his band rip into the barnstormer of a title track from recent album ‘Speed Of Darkness’. Flogging Molly have sold out far bigger London venues than the Garage, and although Dave’s frequent one-liners are hardly the stuff of comic genius, they do add to the sense of intimacy that just wouldn’t exist at, say, the Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
Let’s not forget, also, that Flogging Molly cut their teeth in small bars and clubs for quite a while before their hard work started to pay off, so tonight represents something of a return to their roots. By the time they hit the stage, the booze has been flowing freely for a good couple of hours, and the sing-along for the opening ‘The Likes Of You Again’ is proof enough that the band’s loyal following hasn’t deserted them in their two-year absence from these shores.
There isn’t really much in the way of musical surprises on offer tonight, with a handful of newer songs on offer, plus most of the old favourites – the drum and banjo intro of ‘Drunken Lullabies’, in particular, inciting absolute mayhem amongst the increasingly sweaty and delighted crowd. Flogging Molly remain a true band of the people, and even if tonight sees them doing little more than what they usually do (albeit in a smaller setting), they still do it better than most other Celtic punk bands around today.