Best of the Pogues

Publication: Metro International

Author: Pat Healy

Date: March 12, 2009

Original Location: ???

The Pogues have become an unlikely St. Patrick’s Day tradition in recent years, coming to our country every March, selling out concert hall residencies and telling us to kiss their Irish arses.

OK, they don’t actively tell us to kiss their arses anymore, but their rowdy traditional Irish music is still as punk as it was in the 1980s. When reached by phone last month, tin whistle player Spider Stacy said the band hadn’t even practiced for their upcoming shows. How punk is that?

“Yeah we don’t need to rehearse,” he says, nonchalantly.

But won’t the set suffer? After all, the Pogues were dormant for many years between the early ’90s and the beginning of this decade, and they only tour briefly once a year.

“It should be absolutely rock solid, I would imagine,” Stacy says without a hint of fear in his British accent. “We’re a very well-oiled machine.”

The band and their leader Shane MacGowan, who was treated as sort of an Amy Winehouse in the European tabloids in his day, used to be known for being a different variety of well-oiled onstage, which sometimes overshadowed the singer’s biting, poetic lyrics. But Stacy says only four of the members “still sort of have the occasional tipple or two.”

He adds that although the band chemistry is finally right, there still isn’t any talk of any new material.

“You know I don’t really see the point,” he says at a quick clip, as if he’s already considered the matter at length.

“This is nothing to do with the [gossip] that ‘Shane can’t write anymore’ or anything like that, but I just say that there’s so much time that has gone by between then and now that if we did an album, I just don’t know how much it would really be a real Pogues album.” But besides the discontinuity issue, a new album would displace all the classics that Pogues fans feed on.

“Once you’ve kind of done the new album, then it is kind of incumbent upon you to go out and promote it,” he says. “Then when we do play the new material, what happens to the old stuff?”

When asked what his favorite song to play is, Stacy briefly rhapsodizes about his bandmate Shane MacGowan, and how well his composition “A Rainy Night in Soho” has aged since the band first released the song 23 years ago.

“The way Shane sings it now,” he says, sighing as he searches for the right words. “I guess he wrote it when he was 28-years-old or something, and he’s now 51. It has so much more weight sung by a 51-year-old man.”

It was always a great song and it always plays with a powerful emotional whatever you want to call it, but there’s something about a guy singing it in his 50s where it really ... the song fits him.”

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Transcribed and made available by Zuzana.