(Alt Music News Updated Every Afternoon)

Publication: ChartAttack
Date Printed: April 17, 1996
Original URL: [Now broken]
By: Marc Dacey


ChartAttack columnist Marc Dacey (he writes fin-de-siecle) witnessed the Pogues at Toronto's Warehouse last night. It's long, but it's worth it.
    The day started badly. I have been so used to seeing The Pogues on March 17 for the last few years (a happy coincidence that has led to more than one episode of tabletop brain surgery) that for some reason I thought it was Wednesday, not Tuesday night. A quick check with Mistress Ladouceur, Chart Magazine editrix and "fixer", confirmed that everyone's favourite Anglo-Irish thrash/folk/speed reel combo were, in fact, a few short hours hence. Rearranging my busy schedule (bottle of evil stout, hex Harris) like a temp on bennies, I called The Wee Girl and told her to clean her kilt and shine her Docs: we wuz goin' jiggin'.

    Alas, the eve didn't begin with promise. Entering at the tail end of a set by a frankly ugly, Bruce Willis-like guitar wank, we positioned ourselves in the middle of the small crowd in front of the stage and stood through 45 minutes of no-name jungle dub. Frankly, it wasn't a crowded event: the $26 cover, the Rosswell-Incident-hanger ambience of the dock-district Whorehouse (formerly STD), and the appalling beer prices ($4.50 for a tin of domestic pile solution, $5.00 for a warm Heiniekiss, and, unforgiveably, no fuckin' Guinness) probably drove away all but the most devoted. Also, the absence of St. Shane MacGowan still rankles with those of the True Faith, and 'tis said that in his new, marginally-less-poisoned job with the Popes, ol' nasty Shane actually gets through the odd show without hurling bile into the monitors.

    So we're in the crowd... actually, what would become the pit, when the somewhat grizzled Pogues stroll on to a wild reception from the coterie of well-lubed fisherfolk for whom a $5 Bud isn't an issue. A grey-suited Spider Stacy, looking as if he'd been dragged behind a wedding, now fulfills the Shane slot, and the best one can say about his singing skills is that he's not as shite as last time. A few faces were new, or at least have been seen only once before: the young mandolin/violinist/didgeridoo player replacing the amazing Terry Woods and the Brendan Behanesque bruiser on accordian. Both looked ten years younger than the geezerish Poguery, and their youthful vigour helped to power the event above the narcoleptic cutoff.

    Thankfully, an insane audience (and a wide one: giggly teen Oasis manques to frightened-looking suit 'n' tied 40-somethings) down in front got one of the more active mosh sessions I've seen in a few years going, with occasionally three bodies surfing for the fast numbers, and the odd woman lofted high during the ballads. (Even the pit has etiquette, of a rough sort). The Pogues seemed to respond, getting better with the fast ones "Turkish Song of the Damned", "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah", the ballads "Tuesday Morning" and the new, "rootsier" stuff, like "Toss Pint". Too bad one entire bank of speakers kept fucking up a dozen times during the show. I suspect a partial refund will not be forthcoming.

    The drunk but willing crowd called them for two lengthy encores (which included the memorable fuck-up number "Fiesta") before myself and The Wee Girl cut out for some less exorbitant refreshment. With the passing of the years, the abeyance of the power-drinking, and the absence of Shane, the Pogues are not the manic folk punks of yesteryear (a mid-'80s gig at Toronto's Masonic Temple was possibly the single most violent event I have ever had to bite my way out of), but their musicianship is as solid as ever, and certainly better than last year, and they can still fire up a crowd of drunken idiots better than most. I might even buy the new album.

    RATING: 3.5 out of 5 knobkerries.

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