When people think about attending a family reunion it often brings to mind images of holidays spent around the dining room table or sitting in front of a fireplace telling stories. For the Flogging Molly fans in the Atlanta area, nothing says family like bouncing around in the pit. The last time our clan came together was on February 14, 2011, right before they released their most recent album, Speed of Darkness. After missing the area last year, I was checking months in advance, crossing my fingers that the band would add Atlanta to this year’s list of destinations. The minute I got the word, I made sure that family, friends, and Facebook followers alike knew that they would occupy the hallowed halls of The Tabernacle on February 9th. After all, they would need to start stretching their leg muscles early.

The evening began with the introduction of Dave Hause and Skinny Lister to the throngs of fans assembled. I had the brief thought that it might not be the best idea to have a dude from Philly, a solo singer-songwriter with little more than his guitar, open up the show for THE Celtic punk band, much less at a place like The Tabernacle. I should have learned from past experience and trusted the judgment of my favorite band. If his voice didn’t grab your attention, his sassy attitude, freakishly good looks and incredible storytelling got you hooked. Check out Dave’s single “Time Will Tell” on YouTube to satisfy both your eyes and ears.

I have only three words to describe to Skinny Lister: Ah-maz-ING!  This folk-punk band, hailing from the mean streets of London, made us all feel like we were just as much a part of the tour as they were. Including us in the vocals and instrumentals, the free-spirited Lorna Thomas made sure everyone was participating and having an incredible time; the perfect way to get us all moving in anticipation for the main act. I mean, the upright bass player, Dan Gray, went crowd surfing … WITH the bass!

For any of my friends on Facebook, you got a helping of status updates throughout the show to ensure everyone knew what a jolly good time we all were having. Starting off the show with “Another Bag of Bricks” from the Drunken Lullabies album, the Tabernacle became the only place in the world we all wanted to be.

Dave King, storyteller extraordinaire, made sure to engross us with stories of his late father and his family while regaling us with such hits as “Power’s Out” (dedicated to the people of the northeast), “Drunken Lullabies,” “Selfish Man,” and “Paddy’s Lament.”

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Flogging Molly at least five times in the last several years, and this year I noticed a change in them. A seasoned fan can tell the band’s sound has changed to a more mature and sometimes acoustic sound, but there’s no denying this band still knows how to rock out. For the final number, friends joined strangers in a swaying rendition of “World Alive,” and as always, Flogging Molly left us wanting more. No amount of coaxing could bring them back to the stage, so let’s raise a glass to hope they come back around sooner rather than later.

P.S. To the dude in the pit who broke his ankle during “Seven Deadly Sins”—I hope you don’t let a little fracture get you down. We’d all love to see you next time.