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'Classics on the Rocks'
Intrepid music lovers making their way to the "Classics on the Rocks" concert on the Strathmore lawn Wednesday evening knew they were rolling the dice, as the weather had been threatening all day. And indeed, just before concert time the threat was carried out, forcing a hasty relocation to the ornate music room of the mansion, where about 80 patrons sat on blankets meant for the lawn, or squeezed in along the sides. The program was truncated, as one of the larger instruments could not be safely brought in from the gazebo in the rain, but what remained still provided a good measure of enjoyment.
The opening work was Dvorak's glowing Piano Quintet, Op. 81, played by young area musicians completing their advanced studies and looking to move into professional careers. The musicmaking was fervent and sincere, though it gave evidence of hasty preparation; the pianist misread his rhythms in the closing of the slow movement, and there were numerous ensemble problems and missed entrances in the scherzo. But each musician showed individuality and promise, particularly cellist Lars Kirvan.
Next came a group of pieces played by seasoned professionals Paul Fadoul, marimba, and Zara Lawler, flute. Fadoul deftly handled the keyboard part of a Bach flute sonata, a feat comparable to playing the piano using only the thumb and pinky of each hand. Lawler's flawless playing, particularly her colors, sound effects and snappy rhythms in two Astor Piazzolla tangos, was the high point of the evening.
-- Robert Battey
Merriweather Post Pavilion was ripe with humidity, beer and body odor on Wednesday for the Dropkick Murphys. But surprisingly, it wasn't just eau de bro in the air: The Boston-proud Celtic-punk rockers have a surprising number of female fans, despite the Murphys' music being the perfect soundtrack for male bonding. Sure, there were plenty of shirtless guys wrestling in the lawn seats, but the women wouldn't let the boys have all the fun -- or the sole privilege of doffing their tops.
But for all the female pheromones floating around that evening, the Dropkick Murphys ultimately play dude music, like the Pogues on steroids and a rigorous workout routine. The band's songs are loud, aggressive and surging with the sort of energy that makes you want to punch your buddy in the face and then give him a man-hug.
While sweaty rabble-rousers such as "Skinhead on the MBTA," "Barroom Hero," "State of Massachusetts" and "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" would have been better served by performances in a dingy Knights of Columbus hall in South Beantown rather than a giant picnic venue with a slightly muddy mix, the Dropkick Murphys managed to blast away at Merriweather's serenity with 90 minutes of arm-swinging, leg-kicking, shirt-losing Irish punk. To quote "Apocalypse Now," the night "smelled like . . . victory."
-- Christopher Porter