Tag Archives: the pogues

Small tales: The Pogues

Sitting in a pub when you’re 10 years old with a packet of salt and vinegar crisps and a bottle of panda pop with your mum and your uncles and hearing music in the background that you don’t completely undertsand yet, only what they’ve explained in drunken language, it can really get your mind turning in ways you can never imagine.
I can’t remember exactly when I heard The Pogues for the first time but of course it was in a pub, where else could it be? I remember seeing my mum and uncles putting down pints of beer and hearing this crazy Irish music in the background and someone shouting at the barman in an Irish accent “Put that fucking Pogues on” and on comes the Irish rover and my mum says “yes” under her breath and puts her hand into the air and then starts tapping the beer mat on the table.
Every year from then on, especially around Christmas that famous song “Fairytale” is memorialised through re-releases and music t.v  and re plays on Top Of The Pops classics but if this was any other song it would be watered down and put back on the shelves of history and only talked about on documentaries with interviews with celebrities all saying “do you remember that song?” But not for this song, it’s a little bit different and nostalgic for people and they still love to hear it.
The song became their staple song with the voice of Shane and Kirsty and Spiders tin whistle and the lyrics it’s the song people want to hear being played and it’s constantly in the all time greatest Christmas song lists, but I don’t think that’s fair when you find yourself listening to the rest of the bands music.
Through the years of being a teenager listening to indie, punk and my old favourites of classic rock, the Pogues continued to stand out as a band I want to see so I took my time over the next couple of years shifting my way through their record collection and discovering songs that no body who’s heard of the band would have know.

Over the next couple of years I found out everything I could about this crazy front man Shane MacGowan and the music that influenced him, The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers to name a few where some of the artists he grew up with and I would have to make sure I saved time when I wasn’t playing in bands myself to listening to these bands.
At one point I even became a little bit obsessed with trying to find every documentary made about the man or the band.
I remember a documentary produced by the BBC about the recording of the song Fairytale of New York and I made sure that I recorded it for future reference.
YouTube became very helpful, all I needed to do was type in Shanes name and an interview or a documentary would pop up and I would be glued to the computer screen for the next couple of hours and they all became a repeat viewing, especially when I was unemployed and even today I sometimes find my self re-watching them.
Whenever I mentioned The Pogues to anyone, or even the bands that influenced Shane himself, nobody took time to discover them for themselves, or bothered to even listen to them but at this point I didn’t really care, I’ve found the band that i’ll be listening to until I can’t get out of bed anymore.
Shane took on abit of a personality and his image stood out amongst people, the image of being a drunk and waste of talent, he’s rotten teeth and the guy who should have been dead by the time he was 40 but I slowly come to realise that he’s a poet and that nobody really knows that he’s a poet, for a lot of people he’s just a drunk frontman of a band who wrote a Christmas song that everyone loves, a song that helps you get into the spirit of the season and get over the struggle of it all, but the band and his writing are more than that, it’s poetry and mayhem on stage when they play live, it’s something you can truly get behind and Shane and the rest of the band have never taken on that thing of being “cool” and something for hipsters to follow.

I bought The Pogues live in Paris and I said to myself I’m going to save this for a special night, so I saved it for New Years Eve.
While everyone went out I decided to stay home with a bottle of whiskey and watch the performance and even my mum decided to join me and both of us sat and watched the band play a set with all the mayhem and the craziness the band became known for and when it finished we looked at the bottle and realised we had finished it but my mum remembered she had one hidden away in her cupboard so she got up and got the booze. When she came back we decided to restart the show and make our way through the second bottle of whiskey.
We stayed up till three in the morning watching the DVD, we missed the new year countdown and my dad had gone to bed leaving us both to get drunk.
The next morning we both said we’ll have to do that again next yet, sit up till 3 and get drunk watching the Pogues.
So every year it’s been a tradition, whether I’m at home or not I’ve managed to find a time around new year to watch The Pogues live In Paris, I don’t know if it’s the best performance they had because I was never there in the 80’s when they were at their peak but it’s the one I’ll always remember and it will be the first one I talk about if someone asks me about the Pogues live.

I think we’ve seen the last of the Pogues live, Shane doing his thing with his new set of teeth, the guitarist and one of the lyricist of the band Phil Chevron passed away of cancer not to long ago.
The bands days look to be over, but that’s ok, when I look back at the first time I heard them to discovering the albums and the live performances what more can I ask for from a band and I hope that people can go out of their way and find the band for themselves and experience what I’ve experienced over the years.
I could go into depth about the band and the man who fronted them for 30 years, from the Nipple Erectors to the new Republicans, from Shane’s punk years and the day he had his “ear” bitten off. Maybe I will go in depth one day about the Pogues and maybe one day I can sit and have a quick pint with the man himself and maybe have a chat with Andrew Ranken about the drums, but for now i’ll leave it here. I’m going for a pint.


Small tale of Stage fright and the first gig

It’s a Saturday, It’s the middle of the afternoon and i’m drinking a can of Tetley’s and the thought is going through my head that today is the day of my first ever gig. I find it hard to keep the beer down, the feeling of nausea has settled well in the lower regions of my stomach. My breathing and my hands are shaking, I can barely keep a grip of the can. I put The Beatles and The Pogues on with the hope that the bands can calm my nerves. I’m not even at the venue yet, it’s not for another 2 and half hours till we have to get there and I feel like i’m about to walk on a stage infront of a 50,000 people and strip to the waste.
In need of something stronger than beer I walk over to the side draw and pull out a small hotel sized bottle of gin. I open it up and i neck the thing in one gulp and i feel the warmth travel down my pipe and into my gut. It settles well and I started putting my gear at the front, a nice warm feeling settles around me like a comforting hug.
I place the stands up against the door ready for the band to arrive and pick me up and then I feel a small jolt in my gut and I know somethings not right, so I make my way up the stairs and head towards the toilet. The nausea pre gin has returned and I know it’s not a good sign.
I go into the bathroom and lean over the toilet and I know it’s going to come like a wave from hell, the omen itself is going to flood out of my mouth. And it comes out like a hose putting out a fire. A wave that I expect surfers to ride on. I breath and vomit, I breath and I vomit. I can feel the aching squeeze around my chest, it tightens as I continue to bring up brown fluid, the kind you would find on the beach at Blackpool. And then I settle and I rest my hands on the toilet seat and I breath easy and I pick up my head and walk over to the sink and wash my face with cold water and rinse my mouth with mouthwash.

I go to the front door and double check I have everything for the gig and I get a phone call from the bassist “We are on our way, be about 15 minutes” he says and I start to panic. I start to think that I might spew my guts up again, so I run to the kitchen and make myself a quick bloody mary and I down the thing. I run into the living room without even wiping my mouth and tell my dad whos half asleep in the chair with a cigarette in his hand and I tell him “they’re on the way, i’ll be going soon” and I leave the living room and run upstairs and take one last piss.
I shake and wash my hands and then my phone rings and I answer “We’re are outside, bring out you shit” says the voice on the other end. I grab everything all at once, cymbals, stands, snare and a kick and open the front door with my foot and leave the house. I put my gear in the boot get it and we leave for the venue.
I sit in the back in silence as the rest of the band talk away about what we are about to do, when they turn to me and talk to me I just nod and look down at my shoes and I keep thinking to myself “I’m about to do a fucking gig”.

We arrive at the venue, The Shed, the place where most bands play their first gigs. Kasabian and Arctic monkeys both played early gigs here and we are about to play our first.
We take out gear inside and are greeted at the door by the manager Kev and he gives us the running order, we are on second and we can play for the 30 minutes and we get a line check before we play. We take all of our stuff around to the side of the stage while the first band does their sound check. It’s really happening now, we are watching a sound check and we have out gear ready to be put up on stage.
My hands start to shake at the thought of everything happening so I head towards the bar and grab myself a strong rum and coke and I down it in one, the band keep trying to talk to me but I just nod and say i’m ok.
I have another two more as the first band starts to play, a heavy metal cover band and they smash it. They play through an entire collection of great songs by Metallica, Megadeth and even Rage Against the Machine. Then I really feel it, we’re just a simple pop rock band playing silly songs about silly things, how can we follow a metal band who have just smashed it. But nobody is in but the bands playing tonight, 5 bands is all that’s playing. I’ve heard stories like this from bands before, the first gig is always to the door man but you just got to play.
I run for one last piss as Kev tells us we are on next so we need to get our gear up on stage quick. In the toilet I look in the mirror and wash my face with cold water and I try to hold back the sick that’s in my throat. I walk towards the stage, grab my gear and set up. I can’t see a thing off stage, the lights are so bright I feel blinded, all I can see is the shadows of the band as they set up their gear.
We finish setting up and we start our line check. I tap on the snare, I kick the bass drum and tap the toms and the sound guy says “That’s ok” and I stop and I sit and wait for the guys to test their gear. I feel sick again and I’m shaking, just doing the line check was hard enough and I a few seconds I’m to play for 30 minutes. I can see a small crowd of the other bands gathering at the foot of the stage. It’s happening now, it’s real, just play, it’s only for 30 minutes. This is the crazy moment everyone always talked about, and now it’s your turn to be crazy. Don’t worry, it will be all over soon.

The strum of the guitar signals the opening of the first song, then the bass comes in and then it’s my turn and I hit that snare with all my might and 45 minutes later I’m standing at the bar ordering myself a Newcastle brown. Everything is a blur, I only remember the opening few seconds and now everything has faded. All I know is that I loved every minute it of it and I don’t know why. I’m shaking and my mouth is dry and I have a huge smile on my face, and I don’t know why.
I just let it run through my head while I stand at the front of the stage with my beer waiting for the next band to play, you’ve just done a fucking gig.