Gig review: The Pogues
AS LONG as The Pogues remain upstanding – and in frontman and career inebriate Shane MacGowan's case, that's a minute-to-minute challenge – they'll represent the definition of a party band. Their latest Glasgow pre-Christmas show was so typically rowdy it practically shook the Academy to its foundations.
The Irish-English punk-folk outfit's December tour has become a seasonal institution with all the conventions of a boozy pantomime. MacGowan's banter was at best a gummy, unintelligible croak, and he rarely managed to sing more than three songs consecutively without having to stagger offstage, presumably for a refreshment of some sort, leaving various Pogues to deputise on lead vocals. But he returned each time, to howl his way lustily through the band's best tunes, including the stomping Body of an American and timeless mass sing-along Dirty Old Town.
The unruly atmosphere frequently spilled over into outright loutishness. The fact that sections of the well-oiled crowd chose to urge the band back on for an encore by singing a Celtic song highlighted the confused jumble of associations The Pogues conjure up in some people's minds. The number of projectiles hurtled on to the stage – glow sticks, numerous pints and even a mobile phone – prompted guitarist Philip Chevron to make the reasonable request: "If you like us, please don't throw things."
MacGowan's awkward waltz with his female backing vocalist at the end of Christmas staple Fairytale of New York, while fake snow tumbled from the ceiling, was an unusually gimmicky flourish. But it struck an appropriately joyful endnote as 2,500 bodies seemed to join in a giant festive embrace.