Artists: The Pogues

Publication: The Huddersfield Daily Examiner

Author: Barry Gibson

Date: December 21, 2009

Reviewed gig: Leeds, Leeds Academy – December 14, 2009

Original Location: Link

THE POGUES returned to Leeds as part of their annual lap of honour of Britain and Ireland.

The folk/punk eight-piece haven’t recorded any new material for well over a decade, yet they can still pack out venues like the Academy on a Monday night.

Pogues lead singer and chief songwriter Shane MacGowan is many things – genius, drinker, walking advert for the dangers of not brushing your teeth.

But above all he’s a survivor. While the rest of the middle-aged Pogues have accepted that their hard-living days are behind them, Shane is still knocking back the booze, swigging lustily from a bottle of wine during the set.

The Pogues kick off with some of their rabble-rousing classics. If I Should Fall From Grace With God and Streams of Whiskey get the punters going in the moshpit.

The mood is barely less raucous for the supposedly slower numbers, like A Pair of Brown Eyes and The Broad Majestic Shannon.

As one great song follows another, you are reminded of just how good The Pogues were in their 80s pomp.

MacGowan takes regular breathers throughout the set, allowing the chatty tin whistle player Spider Stacy to take over vocals for Tuesday Morning.

For an encore, they swap instruments and drummer Andrew Ranken belts out the classic Irish tune The Star of the County Down. Then it’s the turn of rhythm guitarist Phil Chevron to sing his Thousands Are Sailing, the tale of Irish immigration gone wrong.

There’s time for one more and, this being Christmas, it has to be Fairytale of New York, possibly the greatest seasonal song of all time. Ella Finer, daughter of banjo player Jem, comes out to sing the part made famous by the late Kirsty MacColl.

The crowd sings along joyously to the tale of Christmas Eve in a New York drunk tank.

As the fans leave happy at seeing the band in the flesh, I think to myself that The Pogues’ annual lap of honour is a very welcome addition to the list of Christmas traditions.

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Transcribed and made available by Zuzana.