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By Leigh Montville
SEPT. 9, 2011. I GO WITH MY MAN DOYLE TO FENWAY for rock 'n' roll. The Red Sox are on the road, and the Dropkick Murphys have taken over the ballpark for two nights. This is the second of the two nights. The reviewer in The Boston Globe said the group of "acoustic upstarts and Boston-bred punks ... transformed hallowed ground into a hell of a time last night."
"This will be loud," Doyle says.
"This will be very loud," I agree.
The Dropkicks have become the semiofficial house band of Boston sports. They reworked and updated the forgotten standard Tessie, the song of the Royal Rooters who followed Cy Young and Babe Ruth to long-ago glories, and made it part of the Sox' run to the championship in 2004. They have been part of the local athletic scene ever since: raucous, loud and very good, playing shows around the world, but always available to come home for any duck boat parade celebrations.
Doyle and I have been to other concerts at Fenway—the Rolling Stones have played here, Bruce, Jimmy Buffett, Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney, the Dave Matthews Band, Aerosmith, even New Kids on the Block—but those have been big affairs, the stage built in centerfield, folding chairs across the outfield, 35,000 people in the park. This is different.
The stage has been built on top of the bullpens in rightfield. The singers face the bleachers. The rest of the park is closed off. It is as if a relief pitcher such as Jonathan Papelbon or Mariano Rivera could stand on a chair and serenade or curse back at the mass of people who watch him warm up. The sold-out crowd in this arrangement is no more than 10,000 bleacher stalwarts, packed together.
The people here are locals, Boston people, not the tourists and expense-account joy-seekers who come to see the "lyric little bandbox" on most days and nights. The local accent is everywhere. Dennis Lehane could find his next novels in this crowd. Mark Wahlberg would star in the movie. Tattoos and black leather and many, many shamrocks are popular.
"If you shouted the name 'Kevin,' half the people would turn around," Doyle says.