Publication: The New York Times 
Date Published: Saturday, April 13, 1996 (Late Edition) 
By: Neil Strauss
Section: Section 1, Pg. 18, Clm. 5, Cultural Desk

A Pogues concert is a lesson in entropy. On Thursday night at the Supper Club, as the Celtic- and punk-influenced rock band's set progressed, disorder began to reign as energy dwindled. By the end of the show, James McNally was walking around the stage with his accordion balanced on his head, Darryl Hunt was rapping on a beer bottle instead of playing the bass and Spider Stacy was haranguing audience members and omitting entire verses from songs.

Though they can still cut a reel with the same besotted abandon they always have, the Pogues today are a very different band than they were five years ago. In 1991, the band's main singer and songwriter, Shane MacGowan, left the group. (Mr. MacGowan recently performed in Manhattan with his own band, the Popes.) In the following years, the Pogues lost a mandolinist, an accordionist and a guitarist, and the tin whistle-player Mr. Stacy, formerly the straight man to Mr. MacGowan's W. C. Fields, was forced to take over as singer. 

Under Mr. Stacy's lead on Thursday, the reconstructed Pogues were both more diverse and less interesting than they were a decade ago. On one hand, Mr. Stacy wasn't afraid to slow down the show for straightforward ballads like "Love You Till the End" or to try his hand at seemingly incongruous cover songs like Bob Dylan's "When the Ship Comes In," both of which are included on the band's new album, Pogue Mahone (Mesa/Blue Moon).

On the other hand, Mr. MacGowan has taken with him most of the seediness, unpredictability and bleary-eyed bleakness of a good Pogues show. Mr. Stacy's vocals, though as incomprehensible as Mr. MacGowan's, aren't nearly as effective on older Pogues favorites like "Dirty Old Town" and "Fiesta."

Nonetheless, the band still managed to play some of the world's best drinking songs for those who should no longer drink, fusing Irish folk melodies, rock rhythms and barroom stumble with an ease that has yet to be matched.

©Copyright 1996 The New York Times Company 
All rights reserved 

Your intrepid maintainer is DzM