The rovers' welcome return

Publication: Metro

Author: Ben Sloan

Date: December 20, 2004

This summer, Shane MacGowan played a low-key gig in North London's Boogaloo bar. After a fivesong set, he shuffled through the crowd. And I, overawed at seeing a legend performing in such close quarters, told him it was great. He laughed and told me not to be stupid, it was just OK.

Why the anecdote? Well, perhaps it shows that others value his talent more highly than he. Yet it also proves that beneath the famously dishevelled exterior is a man who still knows when he's doing something right. Which is why these shows are not to be missed.

'It was always on the cards that we were going to do it again,' says penny-whistler Spider Stacey of the reunion. Excepting the eight-strong line-up that played Fleadh in 2002, this is the first time in almost 15 years that all nine of the classic Pogues have toured, including former Mrs Elvis Costello, Cait O'Riordan.

'Unfortunately, we couldn't really keep Cait a secret,' confesses Stacey. 'That would have been a brilliant surprise for everyone. But quite how devastatingly great she is - that's the surprise.'

And Shane? 'He's in great form, the life and soul of the party.' And some party it's likely to be; not just for the Irish, not just for original fans but for anyone into heartwarming songs about the big things: love, life, London and liquor. A nine-strong maelstrom of punk and folk, like a ceilidh with The Clash.

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