Off The Record: Pogues to Split?
ON the eve of a U.S. tour, reports are emanating from London that the Pogues are splitting, again. It's not certain yet, but this time could be the last time.
New Musical Express reported that accordionist James Fearnley and mandolin player Terry Woods have already left. Calls to London from this column have been unable to confirm that -- there seems to be a bit of confusion about what's what, and the secrecy and whispering are reminiscent of when Shane MacGowan left and/or was fired from the band, depending on whom you listened to.
WEA records in London denied the split, but then again, they would be expected to do so. We'll have to wait and see on this one.
NME's anonymous source said that, speak of the devil, the rift was caused by Mr. MacGowan. Shane's impromptu appearance onstage at a pre-Christmas Pogues show in London awakened tensions in the band, said the source, leading to the split. MacGowan appeared onstage with another unscheduled guest, Joe Strummer, who of course also used to play with the Pogues as MacGowan's initial replacement. The two joined their former comrades for three encores.
It wouldn't be surprising if those appearances got some people upset. Despite a strong album of last year, the post-MacGowan Pogues always seemed to be somewhat rudderless. The album was a decent start, but the band really needs to work on setting in stone their own, new identity.
One sign of the tension vis a vis Mr. MacGowan is that the Pogues are said to have abandoned what has become an annual mega-gig, on St. Patrick's Day. That show is always a monster sell-out, usually held somewhere in England, or maybe in Scotland.
This year, though, St. Patrick's falls in the middle of their planned trip to the Americas. Their U.S. publicity people have told us that they are scheduled to play the 17th in, of all places, Toronto. NME reported that that move was made only after the band had abandoned plans to play London on Patrick's Night. The reason for that abandonment, alleges NME, is that the band found out that Shane MacGowan and his new group were playing a gig elsewhere in London that same night. NME's source said that the competition put the Pogues off (read -- it would be embarrassing for Shane's solo gig to out-do that of the Pogues) and that it was then that the Toronto gig was set.
Is any of this the truth? Only time will be able to tell. We hope to have more next week.
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Great wadges of thanks to Adrian Leach for help with this article.
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