The Pogues @ Newcastle Arena

Publication: BBC

Author: Kevin Williams

Date: December 17, 2004

Section: Event Reviews

Original Location: Link

The Pogues @ Newcastle Arena - Thursday 16 December.

Dear dirty delightful old drunken old days were here again as The Pogues kicked off Christmas at Newcastle Arena.

Everyone over the age of eighteen should go to a Pogues concert at least once in their lifetime; if only to study the band and witness the audience. It certainly helps to have a few drinks on board before the chaotic drunken party unfolds before you. All of human life is there.

The appeal of Irish rock music goes way beyond the shores of Ireland and spreads across the whole social spectrum. The crowd at the Arena on Thursday night were an eclectic mix with two common loves: the drink and the music. Not far different from the band really.

The figure of Shane McGowan is unmistakeable; shuffling, scruffy and always loud, but that is the appeal of the man and the band that support him. McGowan himself, is either an incoherent drunk or a musical genius, or possibly both at various times. By the end of this performance, with a bottle of whiskey half-emptied, I suspect both. You either love him or hate him.

The band last toured the UK in 2002 and were keeping a promise that they would one day do it again with their original line up, including Spider Stacy; even Cait O'Riordan was there as a guest vocalist.

The one you've been waiting for...

The Christmas tour concert in Newcastle, one of six taking place nationally, started with Streams of Whiskey and was always going to finish with Fairytale of New York with O'Riordan sharing vocals, but the crowd called out more and they got Fiesta and watched as Shane and Cait danced.

Along the way nearly every classic Pogues track got played with passion, though Transmetropolitan wasn't in the Newcastle set.

For those with seats, this was two hours of great Pogues music, but on the floor the atmosphere was always drunkenly dangerous. It had an edge that you don't get anywhere else since the days when you could jump up and down on football terraces. Large grown men doing just that is an amazing sight. The Pogues are not a gig or a concert so much as a night on the lash with some great music. I loved it, my mother would have hated it.

'So be easy and free, when you're drinking with me, I'm a man you don't meet every day', sang Cait. When you see Shane McGowan you realise how true those words are.

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Transcribed and made available by Zuzana.