Publication: The Gazette (Montreal) 
Date Published: Wednesday, March 16, 1994 
By: Mark Lepage
Section: Entertainment: Show, Pg. B10/Break

And everywhere the mantra was mumbled over plastic beer cups in the crowded venue: it's just not the same without Shane.

Shane MacGowan has passed into Pogues history, but MacGowan was walking history even when he sang and wrote the songs elevating this above all the hundreds of Celtic also-ran rock bands. MacGowan was the myth, God love him. Spider Stacy is the reality.  

The reality stood centre stage last night, right leg twitching in a cheap gray suit as the band ripped into "Sunny Side of the Street," singing himself tubercular in best Pogues tradition. The lyrics were no more intelligible, the behavior little more controlled, the music just as comparable to a sack of tomcats loosed in a room full of liver. The Pogues remain. The Pogues are not the same. But was the magic there? Could they still turn a venue into a shebeen on a weeknight?

The proceedings bore much resemblance to the shambles of yore. Stacy's croak of a rasp of a bark of a voice worked as a splicing of MacGowan and Strummer, somewhat soothing the Not the Same Without Shane brigade, the people who missed the time when life was one big drunken laughing/crying party and Shane was pouring the drinks.

But in truth, MacGowan was barely a part of the last several Pogues tours. If you like this band, you like the band itself.

They came to play, driven as always by James Fearnley's (I think it was his) accordion, hammered along by Andrew (Clubber) Ranken's drumming, and fuelled most completely by 1,500 fans who heaved as one on the dance floor.

This is not the same band. The moment has passed, the time when the Pogues transcended "Celtic rock" and threatened to become truly important. The Pogues are now simply the most raucous, beloved Irish/English rock band extant, missing the vision but still more than capable of igniting a riot on the dance floor.

Beer cups flew as fans who wanted to believe, who wanted to forget Shane, succumbed to the drunken martial rhythm and the momentum of the songs.

By the time they hauled out "Dirty Old Town," one of the kids who had dissed the entire proceedings was slam-waltzing at the back bar, and the crowd was arm waving as if at a rally. It didn't erase the visions of what Could Have Been, but it worked as a life affirming reminder of the necessity of moving on, especially if moving on can be accomplished in a two-step.

©Copyright 1994 Southam Inc. 
All rights reserved 

Your intrepid maintainer is DzM