Gig review: The Pogues
THE POGUES ***
O2 ACADEMY, GLASGOW
CHRISTMAS comes but once a year, and so do The Pogues. The 2010 instalment of their annual festive tour has been billed as the veteran London-Irish punk folk rabble rousers' last hurrah, though most likely it's all a marketing ploy. Shane McGowan has appeared on the brink of checking out permanently for years, yet he always seems to drag himself out of the gutter. Certainly there was no emotional farewell, even if this show did suggest last orders are long overdue.
McGowan was his usual paunchy, slightly confused-looking self, a cigarette frequently clasped in his fist for dear life. His chat in a low, gummy slurp was literally unintelligible – what came out as "goo shinning" may have been a compliment on the crowd's backing vocals during Dirty Old Town, but he could just as likely have been clearing his throat.
Mostly this was The Pogues on autopilot: wild reels (Sally MacLennane) and maudlin, swaying ballads (A Rainy Night in Soho); Irish Rover went off like a rocket; Spider Stacy battered himself over the head with a tray during Fiesta; and so on.
The young vocalist drafted in for Fairytale of New York looked terrified as McGowan – who had seemed to mumble "I only met this girl on Friday" – clasped her in an uncomfortable waltz, after they'd both been drowned out by the merry, full-throated roar of the crowd. When 2,500 thunderously drunk Glaswegians know your songs better than you do, then it probably is time to stop.
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