Snow was falling and roads were almost impassable, but it was the eve of St. Patrick's Day and The Pogues were playing in Philadelphia for the first time in 11 years, so a Guinness-drinking crowd filled the Electric Factory in spite of the inclement weather.
For starters, frontman Shane MacGowan was pushed on stage in a wheelchair - he injured a knee after falling over some equipment in Boston a few days earlier - and the band fired off a powerful ''If I Should Fall From Grace With God.''
MacGowan, now almost 50, with years of intoxicants under his belt, was still able to belt out a great set, even if he wasn't able to show off any dance moves. He poured himself into ''Streams of Whiskey,'' then cooled off with a dip into the touching ''Broad Majestic Shannon.''
The Pogues were energetic throughout, playing 25 songs that would make any fan happy. Selections spanned the years, from the traditional ''Greenland Whale Fisheries,'' from 1984's ''Red Roses for Me'' album, and ''Boys from the County Hell,'' a bonus track on the recent ''Red Roses'' reissue, to whistle and harmonica player Spider Stacy's 1993 ''Waiting for Herb'' tune, ''Tuesday Morning.''
The show revealed a group that has matured as musicians. The Pogues' soul shone brightly when Terry Woods stepped to the mike for ''Young Ned of the Hill,'' and Philip Chevron gave a near show-stopping performance of ''Thousands are Sailing.''
The band played almost flawlessly, and MacGowan bumbled only a few lyrics as The Pogues roller-coastered through faves such as ''Dirty Old Town,'' ''Bottle of Smoke'' and ''Sick Bed of Cuchulainn.''
The concert concluded with the spirited ''Fiesta,'' as Stacy added percussion by smacking his head with a cookie sheet and the crowd reeled from the exuberance pouring from the stage.
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