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St Patrick’s Day Special: The Pogues Farewell Concert 2011 Returned And Reviewed

(Nine years ago there was the Pogues, this year everyone stays home. Not just COVID-19, but also a lack of top Irish bands to bring in St. Patrick’s Day in New York City. No Black 47, Dropkick Murphys stay in Boston, the Pogues are obviously gone… now we have Ireland’s day without the Irish… but nine years ago… IL)

Five songs into The Pogues superb last set before their retirement, Shane Macgowan leaves the stage to his back up band. And if that sounds a little mean to the other performers, a fine version of “Tuesday Morning – a 60s London type rock number without Shane, paled in comparison to the Pogues with him.

I had heard Shane was pretty drunk on Tuesday. He wasn’t on Wednesday. He was holding onto the mic because that’s how he sings, he was immobile because decades of alcoholism and drug abuse has left him this way, but he caught every song tonight. 21 of them. Each a gem of Irish rock and roll. Each beloved.

The band opened with one of their greatest, “Streams Of Whisky” and followed it with another of their greatest, “If I Should Fall From Grace With God”. But really they are all great. They are all singalongs. And really, you can’t hear the Pogues if you don’t hear em live. The songs improve so much when the audience sings em back, picks out the lines, picks out the chorus for you. “Broad Majestic Shannon” is brought to life, “Boat Train” chugs, “A Pair Of Brown Eye” is lusty with a magical flute.

And no gainsaying, the band is really great when Shane is there. Especially James Fearnley on accordion and Spider Stacey even if only for his name.

One minor complaint? I wouldn’t have minded some of Shane’s solo stuff: “That Woman’s Got Me Drinking”, “Donegal Express” “Victoria”. It is worth noting that the Pogues need Shane, Shane doesn’t need the Pogues. It is Shane’s band and when he wasn’t there, even with St. Joe taking the reigns (sic), it wasn’t the same.But he didn’t miss a beat with Popes.

And Shane was all there today.

He may not be able to walk and his voice may be a croak, but he can emote and he can phrase, and he can give the world what they want., if there is anything better than singing along to “Body Of An American” -“A free born man of the USA” I can’t think what it is right this second.

The set was a touch more than an hour and a half and the entire evening was a blast.

I hope they retire again next year.

Streams Of Whiskey
If I Should Fall from Grace With God
Broad Majestic Shannon
Boat Train
A Pair Of Brown Eyes
Tuesday Morning
Lullaby of London
Sunnyside Of The Street
Repeal Of the Licensing Laws
Waltzing Matilda
Body Of An American
London Girl
1000’s Are Sailing
Dirty Old Town
Bottle Of Smoke
Sickbed Of Cuculainn
Sally Maclemnane
Rainy Night In Soho
The irish rover
Poor Paddy

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