Pogues whip up a festive storm

Publication: The Journal

Author: Matt McKenzie

Date: December 13, 2008

Reviewed gig: Newcastle, Carling Academy – December 11, 2008

Original Location: Link

PUT up tree, fail to buy presents until last minute, go to watch The Pogues.

It’s becoming something of a Yuletide tradition round our way to share a few beers with Shane MacGowan and his pals at this time of year. Almost to the day 12 months ago, I witnessed this rabble of carousers whip up a wonderful festive storm to a sell-out Newcastle crowd and, on Thursday night, they did it again.

It seemed to be pretty much exactly the same, in fact, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Sparked into life by a malevolent Turkish Song Of The Damned, the gig rushed past, until a December night froze with A Pair of Brown Eyes, its tales of the laughing wind and screaming sky making me stand with a smile in a room full of drunks.

From there on in, it was sing-a-long a-Pogues.

Dirty Old Town had us dreaming dreams and Sally MacLennane was uproarious. I swear the floor cracked.

And then A Rainy Night In Soho, Mr MacGowan’s finest hour, one of the finest four-and-a-half minutes in the pop tradition, I’d say.

“Sometimes I wake up in the morning, the ginger lady by my bed, covered in a cloak of silence, I hear you talking in my head.”

Cower in admiration. The song is the measure of my dreams and, played live, it is something else. It was poetry whistled in my ear.

Rarely have I been to a gig where the audience is so hellbent on merry-making.

Maybe that’s why they respond so much to this band, maybe it’s just relief that a man with so much talent is still with us, given how determined he’s been to drink himself to ruin down the years.

Yes, yes, they finished on Fairytale of New York.

The memory’s hazy, but there was snow, there were tears and I wish I could send people Christmas cards which they’d open and that song would play.

It would be a little piece of magic in an envelope.

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Transcribed and made available by Zuzana.