Poguetry in Motion
By Janey Pancake
Sunday night was made entirely of Fortune and Magic. Why, you may ask? I shall tell you –but I must preface my tale with a disclaimer of sorts. Let it be known here that nothing, nothing, puts me in the mindset of murderous rage faster than Celtic music. I know a lot of people love it, but I am not one of those people. For whatever reason, I can’t make it past the first few beats of a jittery Irish ballad before I am clawing at my own skin and hair – actively looking for someone to stab or a window to throw myself out of. In spite of this, however, I absolutely love the Irish folk/punk band, The Pogues - and have since I was fourteen years old.
I was able to see The Pogues perfrom live at the Midland Theatre on October 25th – something I had always wanted to do, especially given my legitimate concern that Shane MacGowan is not long for this world (please, please, please let me be wrong.) His alcoholism is legendary, so I was pleased enough just to see him perform before one of us died.
That said, either because of – or in spite of Shane’s magnificent drunkenness, the show was nothing short of fantastic. “Dirty Old Town”, “If I Should Fall from Grace with God”, “Bottle of Smoke” and “Sally Maclennane” were among the many songs played – all with fantastic energy and nimble proficiency – there is no other way to say it, the band played THE SHIT out of their music.
James Fearnley rocked both an accordion and the mandolin and treated us to several raucous knee slides – even going so far as to climb the drummer’s platform and then jump from it – all while holding and playing his accordion. Spider Stacy gave a crowd-crazy-making performance of Tuesday Morning and then later endeared me to him forever by using a pristine, metal baking sheet AND HIS OWN FACE as an instrument of percussion during the song Fiesta, played during the second encore. And, at last, there is Shane Macgowan.
A musician friend of mine who is also a huge MacGowan enthusiast told me before the show began that Mr. MacGowan had not one, but two handlers working for him who held the singular task of ensuring that Shane would remain sober(ish) until the show started. As soon as MacGowan appeared on stage – staggering, head bobbing from side to side, lit cigarette dangling from slack lips – it was apparent that the gentlemen in his employ had failed spectacularly at their job. There were times during the show when MacGowan would swing his microphone haphazardly in circles – sending other band members fleeing out of harm’s way – as well as knocking over his own mic stand and abruptly leaving the stage when he finished a song. I can’t be 100% certain of this (between the thick brogue and the incomprehensible slurring, I couldn’t understand a word that he said) but at one point I think he may have displayed the most gorgeous round of swearing I have ever heard as he did it for a full minute straight and without repeating himself even once. And when he opened his mouth to sing, what poured out was the most haunting, heartbreaking, beautiful sound.
I would heartily encourage any and all of you to catch this show when the opportunity presents itself – lie, cheat or steal if you have to – you won’t be sorry.
October 28: Austin, TX Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheatre
October 29: Houston, TX House of Blues
October 30: Dallas, TX House of Blues