The Pogues - Live in Dublin, Ireland (Cover Artwork)

The Pogues

Live in Dublin, Ireland (2001)

live show

That Shane McGowen is still alive after all these years is something of a miracle. That he decided to reunite with the Pogues is something else altogether.

For reasons still uncertain, McGowen reunited with his former band mates for a string of shows across Britain and, for one night only, graced the Irish shores in the nation's capital, Dublin.

The concert was still only a reunion and as such, the typical downfalls were felt with the 2001 Pogues. Everyone in the band was older, most were a bit fatter and the often heralded stage energy was almost non-existent. Only James Fearnley, the man with the accordion, really made an effort by running about the stage and indulging in a few punk rock jumps.

Most of the energy that night came from the crowd itself. The massive Point Theatre became a giant pub sing-along, as the group tore through a set list that read like the track listing for 2000's "The Very Best of the Pogues" with very little stage banter. The Pogues did do their best to get the Christmas party going, however, by opening with a string of rockers–"Streams of Whiskey", "If I Should Fall From Grace with God", and "Boys From County Hell" (incidentally, the band was selling shirts with the line "lend me 10 pounds and I'll buy you a drink" on them).

The most unfortunately aspect of the night was the state of McGowen. His drinking over the years has been no secret, and for this and/or other reasons, he stepped off-stage about every third song. The man just didn't look physically up to the performance. In his absence, the Pogues played "hits" off their later albums. Being Ireland, where the people are ferociously loyal to its own (everyone has at least three U2 albums, Thin Lizzy are still popular), the crowd sang along politely, but they probably didn't pay thirty pound to see Spider Stacey front the band.

After over an hour of music, the band took a break (or set up a staged encore, however you look at it) and returned for a few more songs. One of the final two were the epic "Fairytale of NewYork"–again, irrationally popular in Ireland, if only because it's the only pop Christmas tune they have. Its played about twice an hour by every radio station in Ireland during Christmas time. The finale was something special–the introduction of folk legends the Dubliners, and a rendition of the classic "The Irish Rover".

In 2001 the Pogues certainly showed their age. But with such historic reunions becoming increasingly rare or just plain stupid (re: Sex Pistols), McGowen and company returned for seemingly all the right reasons: good times and music.