Originally known as "Pogue Mahone
for 'kiss my ass'
) these folk
-poster-punks for AA
got their act together circa 1982, in King's Cross
. 13 lucky and dirty Irishmen
, led by a man with more fingers than teeth and who had an approximately seventy-three percent chance of passing out
during any given show, infused traditional Irish folk
music with a wicked-sick injection of punk
. Oh...and did I mention alcohol
? The Pogues are a drinking band
- make no mistake. Shane MacGowan
, their erstwhile leader and vocalist, lived by the bottle
and the barfight
. A true romantic
, refusing to shave
, Shane could both write like a madman and fail
like a true genius. His inevitable slide into drug addiction
and severe alcoholism
forced the band to fire him in the early nineties and by '95 the Pogues were, sadly, no more. Shane reeled off to start The Popes
and that went about as far as you'd expect it to have gone.
What they left behind, however, is truly great. Combining the ugliness of all things political with artistic beauty and still managing to tell the truth is a tricky business. Almost impossible while sober. The Pogues ripped the violence, romance and fire from the Ireland of old and fleshed it out with tin whistles, pan pipes, fiddles, mandolins, guitars, piano, harps, dulcimers, harmonica and both traditional and modern percussion. They didn't so much play as weave, many songs starting with a gentle pluck or plop...then instrument after instrument speaking up-claiming a bit of silence for their own. Over the next five to nine minutes you're a privileged suspendee - you're in the pub and it turns out that "beggar" sitting next to you is fucking Sid Vicious. You look around briefly for a dentist. Your attention is immediately brought back to the stage as Shane begins screaming "if it ain't a fist it isn't love" and it's time for another round ...
Where are they now?
Jem Finer departed the team in late July, 1996 and is now immersed in the Longplayer project-a synthetic music composition that will play until December 31, 2999. Spider Stacey, Darryl Hunt and Andrew Rankin (briefly) formed the Wisemen in 1999. Renkin is also recording with Nigel Burch's Flea-Pit Orchestra. James McNally has released a solo album and has also been working with the Afro Celts. Jamie Clarke is working with Perfect.