Review: The Pogues
THE sight of Shane MacGowan flouting the smoking ban is hardly surprising. Indeed, it'd be much more shocking if he wasn't belting out the alternative national anthems with fag in hand.
However, MacGowan isn't contravening any laws. Signs in the venue point out that due to the "theatrical nature" of the performance, The Pogues will be smoking herbal cigarettes onstage -- that's the same kind used on film sets that you can buy in a chemist.
MacGowan with either The Popes or The Pogues is, by now, a Christmas institution to rival the panto. Except this time, we're told that this is a farewell tour.
The band's live reputation is all too often centred around MacGowan, a phenomenon reinforced by the football chants of 'Shano'. But of any Pogues show I've ever seen, this one is a powerful reminder of the strength of the band's songbook. The classics flow thick and fast; 'Streams of Whiskey', 'Should I Fall From Grace of God', 'The Broad Majestic Shannon' and 'A Pair of Brown Eyes'.
Spider Stacey takes over lead vocals on the overlooked single 'Tuesday Morning'. Another nice deviation from replicating a best of The Pogues compilation is 'Boat Train', a rousing standout from the underrated 'Peace and Love' album -- an attempt to fuse the spirit of acid house with ceili and punk.
Philip Chevron's classic 'Thousands are Sailing' has assumed a new regrettable resonance in recent times, but without MacGowan it lacks intensity.
As Glenn Close and a tweeting Brian O'Driscoll look on, they do a lovely 'Fairytale of New York' with their friend Anna and glittery fake snow falls.
Momentarily, all is right with the world.
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