POGUES: LET'S HOIST A PINT TO PASSION
Pints filled to the brim and songs overflowing with passion.
That's been the image of The Pogues almost from the day they formed in London in 1982.
As well, to many people, the image of The Pogues is completely symbolized by its lead singer, Shane MacGowan.
His raspy, emotionally charged vocals were ideal for the group's eclectic blend of folk and rock, from Celtic roots to punk spikes. And MacGowan's ability to down more pints and drop more acid than is humanly possible was perfectly suited to the group's rowdy media image.
You know. Work hard. Play even harder.
The songs ranged from rock 'em, sock 'em to some of the most beautiful tunes ever drained from a bottle, songs like Fairytale Of New York.
In '91, MacGowan and The Pogues parted ways. It is now a case of The Pogues are dead, long live The Pogues!
The band soldiers on with co-founder Spider Stacy handling vocals after ex-Clash Joe Strummer did the honor the briefly.
"We didn't lose our sound when Shane left the group," says bassist-vocalist Darryl Hunt, who joined The Pogues in '86.
"We don't have as strong as a front man any more, so it's more of a shared image, but we still have that sound, and most importantly, that attitude.
"The Pogues and Spider have always had that attitude. When Shane left, we didn't just run out and get somebody who could sing. Anybody can sing. You have to have this attitude to be in The Pogues."
The attitude is a strange blend of rebellion and being relaxed. Fight the good fight and have more than a wee bit of fun along the way.
In the end, The Pogues elevated one of its own kind to singer. And three albums into its post-Shane period, the latest being last year's Pogue Mahone, The Pogues continue their search for a sound that rivals its classic recordings of the past.
"It's not easy, never has been," says Hunt.
"We just started off as a group with a lot of Irish influences and we used them all in a contemporary way, with a hard beat and all that. We still are that way. It's just that, well, the majority of the world doesn't have a great imagination, which is, consequently, why Hollywood is so successful.
"They still don't quite know what to make of us."
Hunt feels The Pogues are still very alive and kicking, though some may feel it has fallen from grace with God or at least no longer gets an automatic invite to God's drinking parties.
Hunt disagrees -- as do those who gobbled up tickets to The Pogues' sold-out cabaret show at the U of C's MacEwan Hall Ballroom this Saturday night.
"We've always been the sort of the group that never wanted to just dwindle on to ever-decreasing things, like The Searchers or something. The day we don't feel we're offering something that's original as well as something that feels good, that'll be the time to call it a day."
The Pogues perform Saturday evening at the University of Calgary's MacEwan Hall Ballroom in a licensed cabaret setting. The show is sold out.
Copyright 1996 Calgary Herald
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