Sunday, March 09, 2008

I'm sad to say I must be on me way

The Pogues concert was an incredible experience. I have actually seen the Pogues before (when I was abroad in Scotland) but Shane was not in the band then, so it was not quite the same.

Anyway, I realized before the show that I started listening to The Pogues 20 years ago, so that made me feel simultaneously thrilled and old. Fortunately, of all the concerts I have been to recently, this was the one where I felt decidedly young compared to a lot of the crowd. But that does not mean the crowd was not into the show because it was a great crowd, and completely sold out as well.

(My pictures did not turn out well--I apologize for the ultra-crappy quality. Shane was wearing all black, so he did not show up well. Someone else at the concert took these awesome pics, though.)

If you do not already know, Shane MacGowan is famous for being a drunken slob. He is an extraordinary songwriter, but let's just say the years have not been kind to him. He has no teeth at all, and he is pale and bloated and walks like a 90 year old man.

That said, Shane was awesome. When he introduced songs, he mumbled drunkenly in such a way that we all were asking, "What did he say?" and trying to guess what song was coming up next. For example, Shane would slurringly say, "This one's called 'Ball-o-smuh'" and then the band would break into "Bottle of Smoke." Or Shane might say, "This next one is called 'Sun Sie Stree,'" which we knew meant "Sunny Side of the Street."

But though he could not speak, he never missed a word or a note while singing the songs. And the band was excellent. The skill with which they played their various instruments was astounding. The star (besides Shane) was James Fearnley, the accordionist, who ran all over the stage like a rock guitarist, but with an accordion. Another highlight was Phil Chevron, the lead guitarist--it had been announced that he would not be part of the tour because of throat cancer, but he was there, and he even sang one of their great songs, "Thousands are Sailing."

Some musical highlights:

I had wondered all day what song they would open with, but they went way old school, starting with "Streams of Whiskey," which was great. They played quite a few other songs from their first album, Red Roses for Me, including a wonderful rendition of "Greenland Whale Fisheries," as well as "Boys From the County Hell," and "Kitty."

They played many of my favorite Pogues songs, such as "If I Should Fall From Grace With God," "Sunnyside of the Street," "Bottle of Smoke." These were all quite wonderful.

Though The Pogues album they made without Shane was not their best work, it does contain the lovely tune "Tuesday Morning," which Spider Stacey sang quite well.

Some classic Pogues songs that thrilled the crowd included "Dirty Old Town," "A Pair of Brown Eyes," and "Body of An American."

For me though, the best performances were the gorgeous "Rainy Night In Soho," the rollicking "Sickbed of Cuchulainn," and an all-time great, "Sally MacLennane."

The Pogues played two encores and ended with a full-energy "Fiesta."

Twenty years since I first heard the Pogues, and what a thrill it was to see them.

(I obviously did not take this awesome photo. Thanks to another fan.)


At 1:04 PM, Blogger Jason posited...

I've only been alive for 20 years.

That's a really long time.

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Josh posited...

we walked him to the station in the rain
we kissed him as we put him on the train

At 12:31 PM, Blogger sherlock posited...

Speaking of on my way... I've been really obsessed with the song "On My Way" by Ulrich Schnauss. It's a goodie.

I hadn't listened to the Pogues until your first post about them, and that feels like quite some time ago. But twenty years? Props.

At 12:32 PM, Blogger sherlock posited...

*wow, I was off. The song is "On My Own." I even quoted the title of this post incorrectly.


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