Review: The Pogues at Newcastle 02 Academy

Publication: The Journal

Author: Matt McKenzie

Date: December 16, 2010

Reviewed gig: Newcastle, O2 Academy – December 14, 2010

Original Location: Link

IT only snowed a little on stage this year, presumably God had used it all up outside. But no matter, the flutter from the rafters heralded the arrival of the divinely-inspired festive favourite, Fairytale of New York.

As magical as when first written, played live it must contend with a well-oiled Pogues crowd intent on screaming each wonderful word back at the stage. Not necessarily a bad thing.

This annual reunion is always a raucous affair, branded this time around as a farewell tour (although when your guitarist suggests this is a marketing ploy in September, you doubt they’ll be gone for long).

While the 2010 version was not vintage, it was nonetheless a furious dash through some of modern music’s finest moments made all the more frenetic due to a late start, prompting some very unrock ‘n’ roll apologies.

I believe Shane MacGowan talked of a curfew but that may be wrong, given the first spoken words I understood all night came 45 minutes in and were: “Dirty Old Town”. Sing-a-long-a Pogues, it was wistful, wonderful.

Not that we were here for banter. Rather songs like the uproarious Streams of Whiskey. Occasionally close to adult panto (Shane holds pint of vodka, Shane has an illicit smoke), this knees-up at least gives this shambling man’s exquisite songwriting an annual airing.

Sally MacLennane, A Pair of Brown Eyes, the Shane-free Tuesday Morning and Thousands are Sailing were all here. And then there was Rainy Night in Soho, a song we could all dream of writing. If this year was less than vintage, this was still a full-bodied bona fide bottle of beauty.

Many people think of Fairytale of New York when they conjure The Pogues, but this song will linger longest in the canon. Their finest moment, a work of deft, self-aware lyricism from a man so indulged on abandonment. Really, truly great.

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Transcribed and made available by Zuzana.