I wasn’t planning on going to see the Pogues perform in the States this time around. I wanted to save some money, plus no one wanted to go with me. Besides, I just saw them play in December in London and that . Then a week or two ago, my friend/boss Meg (who also likes the Pogues) wanted to go see them since she never saw them play. Since she knew I would go, we got tickets along with some other co-workers who wanted to go as well. So instead of not going at all, I was going with some co-workers and seeing them a fourth time. The show ended up being one of the best concerts I’ve seen of the Pogues so far!
Like all Pogues concerts, there’s always going to be some type of drama and this time it was a doozie. The Pogues were to open NYC on Wednesday March 14th, but they had to cancel the concert at the VERY last minute. Shane MacGowan took a face first tumble on stage at the last Boston show. He continued the show that night but then the day of the NYC, he got his leg checked out. He tore some ligaments in his leg and the Pogues had to cancel the Wednesday show. Meanwhile, a sold out crowd at the Roseland had to be turned away and fans were quite furious to say the least. They were declaring they wanted Shane dead, blah blah, the usual whining from obsessed fans. I can see being upset over staying hours on line for the show but the man had a broken leg and just realized it was broken that day. What else is he suppose to do. Those fans would probably bitch if the Pogues continue on without Shane anyway. “Oh it’s just not the same with Shane in the band.” Many of those tickets were rewarded for the next 2 nights at Roseland so hopefully those fans got to see the band.
There was a lingering feeling the day of the show because we didn’t know if the rest of the tour was going to be canceled. Shane has done shows/tours in a wheelchair before (I believe) so I wasn’t too worried. But then again, it’s the Pogues and anything could happen. The band announced around 2pm that the tour was still on and everyone at my job we’re happy (myself included). We headed down the city, hit the usual annoying GW Bridge traffic, and got to the venue early enough to get some pizza.
I was surprised to see the inside of the venue still fairly wide open with just 20 minutes to the opening act. I got some spots by one of the pillars at the Roseland and stayed there for the entire Langhorne Slim set. I guess Langhorne Slim have a bluegrass/folk rock/cow punk sound and I dug some songs. My friend Gabe and I noticed the drummer’s cymbal kept falling down the entire set. Towards the end, it looked like he was getting really pissed off. The singer seemed to having a good time since it was a dream of his to perform in front of the Pogues. The crowd liked their faster songs it seem. I thought they were okay.
Before the Pogues hit the stage, I scouted out some better spots in front of the left side of the stage. I’m surprised no one got there before I did, but as soon as “Straight to Hell” came on by The Clash; that’s when the piles of people showed up. Thankfully they weren’t that annoying, and eventually people in front of me left their spots. Each time someone would move up, I’d move forward. One problem I had with the spot was these people next to me. These two EXTREMELY annoying Irish girls who were yapping a mile a minute, and talking louder than the fucking music. I couldn’t take it, and was screaming “Yap YappittyYap Yap” and “Shut the Fuck up!” How dumb do they have to be to spend 60 bucks for a ticket, and then talk the whole fucking show!? Or how dumb are their boyfriends to bring them to the show and waste that money. Thankfully they finally moved in the back and I didn’t have to hear these two stupid bimbos bicker anymore. But yeah, the Pogues…
The Pogues came on stage and Shane MacGowan wasn’t anywhere to be seen. I’m sure this was done on purpose to scare the crowd a little, but the Pogues opened with a different number (finally) and that was the instrumental “Repeal of the Licensing Laws.” Before the song Spider said something along the lines “Sorry for last night, but shit happens.” I thought the song was a great change of pace and got the crowd moving and anticipating the arrival of Wheelchair Shane. After the song, the crowd clapped and cheered as Joey Cashman brought Shane out in a wheelchair. Shane was accompanied with a large bottle of champagne, or whatever the hell it was, and the band went into “Streams of Whiskey.” After that, the band went into a lot of the familiar songs I saw them play over in London in December.
But as opposed to that show, the sound wasn’t terribly loud and out of whack, their wasn’t some asshole drunk that threw beer on the soundboard, and the band wasn’t as chaotic as they were in London. The first few songs sounded a slight off BUT not as bad as in London. I think Shane was speeding through some lyrics, that’s the only explanation that I can think of. Regardless if they sounded a slight off the first 2 songs, I was having a blast. I was thankful Shane and the Pogues were there performing. Out of the four concerts, I actually think the band sounded the best this show. Shane’s vocals were excellent, and the rest of the band were in top form. It really seemed like they wanted to come out this night and make up for the canceled show. I thought Shane sounded the best on the slower numbers like “Kitty,” “Lullaby of London” and “Pair of Brown Eyes.” Every few songs, Joey Cashman would come out and wheel Shane off and another member would sing a song. I thought Spider singing “Tuesday Morning” was particularly good and Terry Woods’ “Young Ned of the Hill” was great as well. I never really like “Young Ned” until I heard the band perform it live. Phil Chevron always does a great job singing “Thousands are Sailing.” Shane came back and did “Dirty Old Town” after that, and that song is a crowd favorite…EVERY TIME! The whole place erupts with singing as soon as the first note is played. It’s quite the sight to see. Another sight to see if Shane playing with walking cane, and hitting the microphone. He kept trying to spin the mic around and I believe the very last song it finally fell down. The band finished the set with “Bottle of Smoke” and “Sick Bed of Cuchulainn.”
After the set, the whole band did a sort of Congo-line push to get Shane off the stage and I wish I had my camera for it because it was pretty funny. The band came back and played “Sally MacLennane,” “Rainy Night in Soho” and “The Irish Rover.” This tour, the band was giving “Fairytale of New York” a well-deserved rest because it’s not Christmas time, and Ella Finer was too busy studying & taking exams over in the UK. I’m fine with that because it makes room for other songs I haven’t heard live before. “Poor Paddy on the Railway” replaced that and I love hearing that song live. Not only is the song fun to hear, it’s even more fun when Shane inserts “fuck” into every other word in the song. I heard they played “Greenland Whale fisheries” in Philly and the other Roseland show. I would have actually loved to hear the band play that live. Oh well, there’s always next time (I hope). Like all of the Pogues concerts I’ve been to, they finished the show off with the party song, “Fiesta.” At this point in the show I was beyond tired of dancing but still dancing because..how can you not? The show was done and I had a fantastic time! I got to hang out with some co-workers at a show and see one of my favorite bands play again. Couldn’t have asked for a better performance.
RATING & SUMMARY:
Bottom Line: One of the best Pogues concerts I’ve been to
Favorite Songs: Turkish Song of the Damned, Tuesday Morning, A Pair of Brown Eyes, Kitty, Sunnyside of the Street, Lullaby of London, Irish Rover, Poor Paddy, Fiesta
Overall Rating: four and a half stars (out of five)
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