THE POGUES SAY NO PAIN WITHOUT SHANE
Throughout the '80s, they were bandmates in The Pogues, a London-based combo that combined Irish traditional music with punk. Not only did the band bring folk music kicking and screaming into the present, singer-songwriter MacGowan offered forth timeless songs about beautiful losers, their demons and desires.
Ultimately, MacGowan's demons got the better of him: He bowed out of the group five years ago when his booze and drug abuse spiralled out of control. The Pogues soldiered on admirably -- an accomplishment Stacy would like recognized.
"It's kind of a bit frustrating when people constantly go on about Shane," says Stacy, who'll lead the Pogues tonight at the MacEwan Hall Ballroom.
"I understand Shane is an essential character in this whole story, but it has been five years and two albums and a lot of touring."
Those albums, 1993's Waiting For Herb and last year's Pogue Mahone, have established the MacGowan-less Pogues as a competent Irish folk-rock band. The new albums are not classics like 1985's Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, but they're not embarrassments either.
Yet Stacy admits the group almost packed it in following MacGowan's departure.
"There was a lot of uncertainty. We owe a lot to Joe Strummer," he says, referring to the former Clash frontman who briefly filled in for MacGowan on the road. "He gave us the impetus that we needed at that point; made us realize it was worth carrying on."
The songwriting duties are now shared by the remaining members and Stacy, the tin whistle player, has taken over the lead vocals.
"It was kind of nerve-wracking at first.... I was stepping into two pretty good pairs of shoes."
Stacy and the somewhat cleaned-up MacGowan remain friends; in fact, Stacy and Poguemate Jem Finer performed on MacGowan's first solo album, The Snake.
"There was never any bad blood between the band and Shane," says Stacy.
Could MacGowan front The Pogues again?
"There's always a possibility," Stacy says. "Everything is possible."
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