Reveiw: The Pogues at Newcastle O2 Academy

Publication: The Journal

Author: Matt McKenzie

Date: December 12, 2009

Reviewed gig: Newcastle, Newcastle Academy – December 9, 2009

Original Location: Link

SOMETHING different for this year: I decided this annual festive treat would be viewed sober for once.

That I was alone in this was apparent upon arrival, the heaving mass of Poguedom was already in friend-hugging, sing-a-long mode from the very moment Streams of Whiskey unleashed shambling havoc onto the stage.

While Fairytale of New York (more of which later) has achieved much, its seizure by the festive tune brigade has perhaps obscured the wider lyrical genius of Mr Shane MacGowan in the general public mind. An opener that talks of meeting with bedfellow drunk Brendan Behan and going “where streams of whiskey are flowing” is early testament.

This was the same procedure as every year, with a greatest hits set to please a packed Academy. This time though, MacGowan looked suspiciously like he was sporting a Christmas quiff (soon to unravel) to match his black gloves and wine bottle accessories.

Sally MacLennane, Dirty Old Town,The Irish Rover were all present and correct.

A Pair of Brown Eyes was magical. The laughing wind, screaming sky, hungry sound coming across the breeze. A rolling and roving it went, wonderfully.

Then his best song: A Rainy Night In Soho. You’d have thought I’d be ready for the emotional resonance of these four minutes, but maybe I’d forgotten.

It wooed me all over again; it was here to remind me how beautiful it was. “Some of them fell into heaven, some of them fell into hell,” Shane sang, and it’s remarkable how a man so full of whiskey is capable of this. A sober reflection: few songs can match up.

They finished, of course they did, with A Fairytale Of New York. It snowed on stage again and drew gasps from the crowd. Forgive the odd shambles, The Pogues made Christmas again.

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Transcribed and made available by Zuzana.