Gig review: The Pogues at Leeds 02 Academy
I've always had a soft spot for an Irish band, ever since I saw one of The Fureys fall off the stage in a pub in Dublin.
I'm not saying it was the drink – but I'm not saying it wasn't either, if you get my meaning.
But the Pogues are a bigger, tougher outfit with a punk attitude and an even bigger association with the demon drink in the form of front man Shane MacGowan.
Indeed, one of the greatest excitements of a Pogues concert is wondering just who will appear to be the more inebriated – the audience or the band.
Such was the drinking of Mr Macgowan that he was even thrown out of the group for a few years but now every-one is friends again and on Monday night in Leeds he was in his usual shambolic/charismatic form.
How much of the drinking man is image and how much is real is hard to say, but a good time was had by all – especially the blokes at the front of the crowd who were intent on getting the joint jumping right from the off.
As Shane shuffled on stage, can in hand, shades in place, they leapt in the air and kept on going for pretty much two hours.
It was fun – but best to keep your feet out of the way.
Up on stage the band were having an increasingly good time too. Shane lit up a fag, and the brass section at the back started their own party with beer and silly dancing.
Shane MacGowan dominates with his growl of a delivery but every few songs he disappears for a bit of rest and recuperation and, in some ways, the rest of the Pogues come to life at this point, with a tighter, faster sound altogether, so the loss isn't too great.
But the set thankfully included all the old Pogues classics like Rainy Night in Soho, Dirty Old Town and A Pair of Brown Eyes and by the end everyone was having a fabulous time.
All our prayers were answered when a female singer appeared on stage to duet with Shane on Fairytale of New York. She wasn't anything like as good as the late Kirsty MacColl, but she did the job well enough and, all of a sudden, she and Shane were slow dancing, fake snow was falling – and the crowd was delirious with joy.
By the time it got to the second encore, Shane was knocking back the contents of a bottle of wine, the band were hitting themselves on the head with tin trays in time to the music and we were all full of festive spirit, in one way or another.
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