posted on January 27, 2011 18:00
The Pogues (live in The O2 Academy, Sheffield)
Review Snapshot: 'They sang us songs from times long-gone / though we knew that we’d be seeing them again' – a fiddled lyrical quote from The Pogues romping rendition of Sally MacLennane. One that highlights the cloud of uncertainty over the authenticity of this year’s fantastic farewell performance by Shane MacGowan and his merry men.
The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10
Full Review: Fabled festive farewell or not, this was a grand performance from The Pogues in a season which they dominate. The agonising wait until they take to the floor is warmed by choruses of Body of an American recited by the eager crowd.
When the doddery Shane MacGowan finally blunders onto stage he’s greeted with a hero’s reception and passionate chants of ‘Shano’ despite appearing as if he has been unceremoniously awoken or directed away from the backstage bar. Is that a sloshing pint of vodka or water accompanying his constantly lit cigarette? For most of this evening’s gig MacGowan mutters unintelligible snippets to the crowd which tin whistle player Spider Stacy on our right translates as song introductions.
First up is Streams of Whiskey, aptly appreciated by the average beer-fuelled, bald nut at the front, followed soon after by the jumpy 'If I Should Fall from Grace with God'. Thereafter the tempo of the set oscillates perfectly with the terrific two-paced 'The Sick Bed of Cúchulainn' inciting a riotous response while 'And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda' provides respite and swaying material.
The Anglo-Irish outfit also sandwich in the brass instrumental 'Metropolis', the beautiful accordion-led 'London Girl' and the much anticipated, energetic 'The Irish Rover'. Not even a minor wire-slip/blown amp sound explosion can dampen the celebratory carnival atmosphere created by the loyal gathering packed inside the often soulless Academy. This is further fuelled when MacGowan dons the band’s green and white scarf which is hurled onstage later on.
And so The Pogues return for their encore (Shano’s fifth) which culminates in a classic rendition of 'Fairytale of New York' which sees him grapple his female compatriot in an awkward arm-in-arm waltz under a sea of confetti. They finish with 'Fiesta' and the baking tray head-bashing antics of Spider Stacy which, although many are too-spent to sustain their bouncing for, has the balcony viewers swinging and leaves us with a special something to hum and whistle along to into the freezing Sheffield night.
This one will live long in the memory – or at least until another farewell concert this time next year...