The Pogues, O2 Academy, Newcastle

Publication: The Shields Gazette

Author: Gary Welford

Date: December 22, 2010

Reviewed gig: Newcastle, O2 Academy December 14, 2010

Original Location: Link

GOING to see The Pogues live is generally a rewarding way to spend a night, so I wasn't going to miss this show, which was part of what's billed as their 'Farewell Christmas Tour'.

Their brand of Irish folk-punk is best served with lots to drink, plenty of dancing/jumping up and down, and singing along until your throat is red raw.

This show was the fifth of 11 dates, so you'd think they'd be nicely warmed up, and legendarily-drunk frontman Shane MacGowan shouldn't be permanently slaughtered yet.

And so it proved, but there was a sting in the tail, with the band's late arrival on stage it was 9.45pm when the Straight To Hell intro tape started up meaning their set had to be cut short.

We'll never know exactly what was cut out, but, reading fans' forum posts, it was probably And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda and The Old Main Drag, two of my favourite Pogues songs.

The late start meant the main set lasted just an hour, but they still managed to cram in 15 songs, starting with the classic Streams Of Whiskey, followed by If I Should Fall From Grace With God, and Broad Majestic Shannon.

The setlist has been freshened up a bit since I last saw them, with airings for the excellent Tuesday Morning (from the Shane-less album Waiting For Herb), Thousands Are Sailing, and The Sunnyside Of The Street.

It's the old favourites that fans go to see, however, and there were plenty scattered throughout the night: A Pair Of Brown Eyes, The Sunnyside Of The Street, and the closing triumvirate of Dirty Old Town, Bottle Of Smoke and Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn.

It was the encores where they really came into their own, however, with the late start meaning they drove a horse and cart through the venue's 11pm curfew.

There were five in all, starting with Sally Maclennane, then song of the night Rainy Night In Soho, and The Irish Rover.

If this does turn out to be The Pogues' farewell it will be the last two songs I remember though: Fairytale Of New York, with Jem Finer's daughter Ella singing the part of the late, great Kirsty MacColl, followed by a Fiesta which had the whole place jumping.

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