Review: The Pogues at Newcastle Carling Academy
YOU can stick your White Christmas, your Blue Christmas, your I Believe In Father Christmas but I’ll tell you the best Christmas tune ever.
And the subject of this review would be no clue to it at all.
The best Christmas song ever is A Spaceman Came Travelling – a song that has no Yuletide issue in its title whatsoever.
The second best, though, I heard last night.
And it was the most magical festive moment, the most magical moment at all in fact, I’ve ever witnessed on a musical stage.
After an utterly shambolic 90 minutes, Shane MacGowan and his superb Pogues did their second encore and produced Fairytale of New York.
It was a song that had the bloke in front of me turn away, saying it was too sad.
But when it snowed on stage – yes, it was actually snowed – the unknown Kirsty McColl replacement and the undecipherable MacGowan lyrics mattered not. It mattered not a jot, in fact, and a grown man beside me, gave me a big hug and everything was all right with the world.
Now, remembering I’m supposed to be reviewing the gig not Christmas itself, the crowd was rather important in the scheme of things. For 50 minutes, maybe an hour, The Pogues were appalling: a haze, a mumbo jumbo of mumbled bottled wine lyrics and the crowd carrying the gig on own shoulders, singing in place of the singer.
For an hour I was thinking wouldn’t it be great if Shane was putting it on, and he was actually sober after all? It was horrible, indecipherable: the band actually got better when he went off. But then came A Pair of Brown Eyes, Dirty Old Town, and Streams of Whiskey and it was beautiful.
And with A Rainy Night In Soho it was a man addicted but holding it together, articulating his finest piece of writing with the poise and essence of a true performer, and he delivered. I fell into heaven when I heard it. There is nothing more to say.
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