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HSBG Preview: Flogging Molly 

Wednesday, Sep 30 2015

Irish-born singer Dave King couldn't have made a bigger shift in musical direction than he did in the early 1990s when he abandoned his metal roots and started Celtic folk-punk outfit Flogging Molly. King came to fame as the frontman for Fastway, a band formed by ex-Motörhead guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke in 1983. King's distinctive wail — equal parts Robert Plant and Janis Joplin — helped make the band's eponymous debut an underappreciated classic of the hair-metal era. (It still beats out the ersatz Zeppelinisms of Whitesnake and Kingdom Come when it comes to tuneful heft.)

King left Fastway a few albums later and, aside from an aborted effort with pop-metal band Katmandu in 1990, dropped out of music altogether. Supporting himself as a house painter and truck driver while his expired visa kept him exiled from Ireland, the singer found his voice jamming with a group of Los Angeles musicians that included talented Irish fiddle player (and King's future wife) Bridget Regan.

Flogging Molly honed its sound during an increasingly raucous weekly residency at L.A. pub Molly Malone's (the septet's namesake). The group mixed the acoustic-folk roots of King's native Ireland with the rebellious fire of the Clash and the Pogues. Tireless road work over the last two decades — including the band's annual St. Patrick's-themed Green 17 Tour, which celebrated its tenth year last spring — established King and company as powerhouse live performers.

And while Flogging Molly has soundtracked many a whiskey-and-Guinness soaked party, King's poignant, often politically charged lyrics rail against corporate greed and celebrate the working-class everyman's fight for survival. The band will hopefully preview material from its forthcoming studio album when it stirs up what will likely be the biggest mosh pit at this year's Hardly Strictly.

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David Pehling


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