I’ve been a fan of The Pogues and have been going to their shows since the mid 80’s. Holy shite! I was going to write a review of their show last year in Las Vegas, but I didn’t get the chance. I’m glad about that now, however, because I just saw one of their best gigs ever. No shit.
Here is what happened…..
I was on tour with my band (The Mahones), and had a night off from our St. Paddy’s tour of the USA and Canada when we happened to land in DC the night of The Pogues show there. We drove from Virginia, where we had played the night before, and scrambled to get passes – we did thanks to some of our friends. We got there just as the first pick hit the strings. Perfect timing.
Then lads blasted out of the gates with ‘Streams of Whiskey’, ‘If I should Fall from Grace with God’, ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon’ and ‘Turkish Song of the Damned’. Four direct blows to the face that left us all hot and sweaty in no time! Next up was the classic ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’, and Shane had everyone in the crowd arm-in-arm singing “and a rove and a rove…”. The vibe was now set for the night. The old classic ‘Dark Streets of London’ was next – the boys were now dipping into the very old stuff. Fuckin’ fantastic and it just gets even better with age, I’ll tell you that much !!
Up next is the band’s other front man, Spider. He pulled out their big hit ‘Tuesday Morning’ and got the crowd rocking! Shane then returned for ‘Sayanora’, (one of Hell’s Ditch’s best) and then made his way into an acoustic version of ‘Kitty’ off Red Roses for Me. The band then returned in full force to get to get the ball rollin’ (yet again) with ‘Sunny Side of the Street’. At the point, the house was nothing but smiles, as if we all knew that this gig was a special one – even the band themselves were all smiling. I must say, the lads are looking fantastic in their fedora hats and cool suits. Crazy!!
Next up was ‘Repeal of the Licensing Laws’ (an old original instrumental by Spider), which is a classic Irish Punk jam that has not only set the template for Irish Punk as we know it today, but is covered by many bands. Amazing. Maybe one day they will do ‘the Battle March’ ? Anyways, Shane then returned with ‘Body of an American’ and ‘Boys of the County Hell’…and the place went nuts. It’s not over yet folks!
Spider then took center stage again for a cool acoustic number call ‘Love You Til’ the End’. Now, I thought this was a new song, but my friends tell me it’s not. Anyways, this song was a great track and had radio hit written all over it. Very cool indeed. Where is it from?
Next up is Phil Chevron. I never really knew about Phil and his other work in the past, but always knew he wrote the classic ‘Thousands are Sailing’, which should be a play, by the way. As a musician, I never thought much of his guitar playing (I’m a Pete Townsend fan), but after seeing The Pogues in Las Vegas last year with a stand-in guitarist, I have definitely changed my tune. Not only is he a great guitarist, and the only guitarist for The Pogues, at that, he is the heart of the band !! Welcome back Phil. You were missed more than you know.
Shane returned once again to take the band home. The old classic ‘Greenland Whale Fisheries’, the audience favorites ‘Dirty Old Town’, ‘Bottle of Smoke’ and ‘Sick Bed of Cuchulainn’ were blasted out to bring this show to its finale – and what a finale it was. The crowd went wild as if Ireland had just won the World Cup (one can dream) and off they went! You know they are coming back:) !
There they were, hands in the air, like the champs they were that night. ‘Sally Maclennane’ blasts out of the PA system and the place goes ape shit. I was lifted off of the ground but I just didn’t care. Beer was flying through the air and I could not have been happier. What a party! Next up was my personal favorite, ‘A Rainy Night In Soho’. This song in the most romantic song in the world and it comes from The Pogues. Go figure (I actually got on my knees and proposed to my wife Katie while they were playing this live in Las Vegas 2 years ago). Love that fucking song! Wow! Sorry got sidetracked…Where was I ? Oh Yeah, then came one of the best Irish Traditional songs ever, ‘The Irish Rover’ a.k.a ‘The Dog’. What a great ending. Off they went again like the fucking Kings they are, and yes, the crowd was still going nuts. Yeah baby !!!!
Well, guess what?! The shows wasn’t over yet! Out they came again, this time with Andrew Rankin up front, and off they went into that old trad classic ‘Star of the County Down’. Andrew sings like Tom Waits on Jamesons, and the Darryl Hunts Gibson SG slow bass groove shook us to the bone. Master musician Terry Woods and multi-instrumentalist Jem Finner picked out the melody with precision and were off! Shane returned to center stage, this time to do ‘Paddy On the Railway’. This song is so much fun to enjoy from the mosh pit, with its slow verses and fast choruses – its like a self-contained party concealed in one song, and one of my favorite traditional Irish songs of all time. Then, the shit hit the fan one last time, and it was time to Fiesta! Jem pulled out the saxophone -people were jumping, spinning and throwing the last of their drinks in the air as if the New Years ball had just dropped in Manhattan. You should have seen James Fearnley throwing that accordion around! Punk accordion like you wouldn’t bel ieve! It was like a bomb went off. With one last wave good-bye, the band was off. What a fucking show! I was standing there at that point covered in beer, soaked in sweat, kind of drunk, and happier than a pig in shit. Now that’s what I call a concert! No ‘White City’, ‘Young Ned of the Hill’ or ‘Fairytale of New York’…but it doesn’t matter. Best fucking gig ever. Hell Yeah !!!!
Now listen up Paddy Punks: all I can say is that there is no question that The Pogues are the best Irish Punk band in the world and always will be. I’ve seen all the bands including The Dropkick Murphy’s, Flogging Molly, and my favorites, The Mahones (shameless plug lol) etc……., but none of them even come close to the talent and the songwriting of these crazy bastards from Ireland. Terry Woods once told me that The Pogues should get back together and take their crown back. Thank God they did. Not only have they taken back their crown, but they have their heavyweight belts to boot. “The Irish Punk Clash”. No one is better or more important to this genre of music. So, please don’t break up again lads. We need The Pogues in this crazy world more than ever now. Thank you for a great show. Can’t wait until then next one. The Kings have returned, and long live the Kings. Cheers to that !!!!
Review by: Finny McConnell – Singer, Guitarist and Songwriter for The Mahones