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Celtic rock done right by Flogging Molly

The Central Wharf was home to three days of stellar music starting Thursday. It ended on a defiantly raucous note Sunday when Celtic rock band Flogging Molly took the stage as part of Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor.

At this mid-summer height of the outdoor concert season, the rhetorical question begged to be asked: Where else can you get a ticket, beer, sandwich and side of fries for $22? Simply incredible -- as if we needed reminding.

Los Angeles-based Flogging Molly opened its 90-minute set on an impetuous note with "The Likes of You Again" on a pitch-perfect night weather-wise.

The band continued with the title track from its new album "Speed of Darkness," "The Worst Day Since Yesterday" and other witty ruminations on life from that peculiarly Irish perspective.

With seven musicians playing accordion, fiddle and a whole array of other instruments, it amounted to Celtic rock done right -- rowdy and devil-may-care music delivered at cut time.

The audience responded in kind with plenty of clapping, fist pumping and what I'll term "jig moshing." There was a massive turnout Sunday that likely rivaled Saturday's crowd for the Tragically Hip.

Lead singer and Dublin native Dave King -- whose stage banter voice is the same as his singing voice -- seemed to develop a special affinity for Buffalo as the night wore on. He ruled the stage like an Irish publican rules his corner bar by poking fun at himself and others when not dishing out interesting factoids.

King prefaced the title track to the band's breakthrough 2002 album "Drunken Lullabies" with a bit of timely poignancy. This bitter song lamenting Northern Ireland's so-called Troubles was especially relevant given the rioting in Belfast in recent weeks. But this last-ditch effort by dissidents to derail the still nascent peace process won't succeed because both sides are committed to a brighter future for Northern Ireland.

Later, the band wrapped up its hourlong set with "If I Ever Leave This World Alive" and "What's Left of the Flag." It was big and boisterous with a dash of punk sneer that puts it on par with the band's trans-Atlantic forerunners the Pogues and others.

Badfish preceded Flogging Molly. This tribute act carries the torch for 1990s ska reggae act Sublime, which disbanded after its lead singer's death from an overdose. One might think it was a discordant choice to open, but Sublime's Long Beach dub meshed well with the headliner.

Indie-rock quintet The Drowning Men rounded out the Southern California-based bill by opening the night with a set that channeled Arcade Fire's orchestral arena-rock.

e-mail: jpopiolkowski@buffnews.com

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Flogging Molly With Badfish.

Part of Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor Concert Series.

Sunday evening at the Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf.    

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