SUMMER POPS REVIEW: The Pogues - Liverpool's ECHO arena
SHANE MacGowan didn’t have a lot to live up to, after his last Liverpool gig. Anything short of getting arrested and spending the night in the cells at St Anne’s would have been a positive bonus.
So to see one of the greatest songwriters of his generation presiding over a grand old hooley of a night was something special indeed.
First act on, the Dead Class kept the spirit of punk alive, with a dancer naked, all but for a well- positioned sock. You have to admire the balls of a man who strips in front of the arena crowd. Sadly, from where I was standing, you could do.
Second support act, Liverpool’s own Amsterdam, ignited the Celtic flame with a blistering set of fiddle and flute fireworks, whipping the throng into a frenzy with Scouse anthem Does This Train Stop on Merseyside. When they finished with Arm in Arm, the crowd was at boiling point.
Shane MacGowan, the mischievous king of misrule, greeted his audience like old friends, slurring and staggering through a mammoth 24-song set.
Sporting a pirate-style eye patch, he slowly built up steam, starting with If I Should Fall From Grace With God, Broad Majestic Shannon and Turkish Song of the Damned. It wasn’t until A pair of Brown Eyes that the crowd really got into the swing of it, singing along and dancing in the aisles, much to the chagrin of the security staff.
And then, during Repeal of the Licensing Laws, Shane left the stage altogether, disappearing into a makeshift tent backstage for the first time of many, leaving the band’s other singer Spider Stacy to fill in the blanks.
Thankfully, each time he returned, and treated the crowd to more spellbinding songs.
One minute it felt like he was the drunk bloke singing at the folk session in the back room of our very own Pogue Mahones, and then the next like he should be onstage with The Clash.
Even with an 11-piece band, he can switch seamlessly between genres, holding the crowd in the palm of his hand.
As the songs rang out – Sayonara, The Sunnyside Of The Street, Bottle of Smoke, Thousands of Sailors and The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn – I didn’t want it to end. And then it seemed it wouldn’t.
A seemingly everlasting encore of Sally MacLennane, Irish Rover, Fiesta and the hauntingly melancholy Rainy Night in Soho had the crowd on their feet and singing along in unison.
And then the man, the whirlwind was gone. If there’s one thing you can say about Shane MacGowan, he’s certainly a man who knows how to lead a party.
8/10- The Irish Rover
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