Review: The Pogues, Nottingham Arena
As the Clash's Straight to Hell faded from the public address system and the crowd looked up to the stage expectantly, the Pogues stepped on to the Arena stage. Knowing exactly what the crowd would be thinking Shane MacGowan waited just long enough for people to start wondering if he would make it - being the drunken and unpredictable genius he is supposed to be.
Thankfully he made it. Slurring and shambolic, just as expected, MacGowan settled down to his day job: Rattling through a collection of fantastic songs. The greatest hits format went down well with rousing performances of Broad Majestic Shannon, A Pair of Brown Eyes, Thousands are Sailing, Lend me Ten Pounds and I'll Buy You a Drink and Ewan MacColl's Dirty Old Town.
But even with the words on a sheet in his hand, MacGowan managed to struggle with some of the songs - was it an act or had he really lost it? It was difficult to tell, but few cared and while it is becoming increasingly difficult to admire his performance as a drunken eejit, it's undeniable that MacGown still maintains an incredible stage presence.
As the band left the stage, we waited patiently for the encore. A safe assumption. It's December and they hadn't yet played Fairytale of New York. Sure enough, back they came to demonstrate why the "classic" still manages to make chart appearances 20 years on.
It's not clear how long MacGowan will be able to continue (although he seems to have defied medical science until now) and it is even less likely the Pogues will be playing arena gigs for much longer but until then we should all be grateful that he just keeps on coming back.
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