Once again, The Pogues returned to Brixton to mark the end of their traditional Christmas tour. Proceedings were more emotionally charged this year due to the recent passing of guitarist Philip Chevron, who’s contribution was honoured in the best way possible: a completely unrestrained Christmas celebration.
The setlist itself offered no surprises. As promised, ‘Rum Sodomy & the Lash’ was played in its entirety, with ‘Sick Bed of Cuchulainn’ getting things off to an energetic start. The crowd were instantly dancing, jigging, pushing and throwing beer all over the place, and didn’t let up until the very end.
Quite simply, the crowd was one of the best I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience. The slower tunes (Pair of Brown Eyes; Dirty Old Town; Rainy Night in Soho) prompted mass sing-alongs, bristling with emotion. The more lively numbers sparked sheer pandemonium, a sea of limbs flying in all directions. There aren’t many bands capable of inspiring such debauchery.
‘Thousands Are Sailing’, written by Philip, was given a particularly warm reception. Other verbal tributes may have been offered, however Shane’s efforts at communication between songs were completely inaudible (would you have it any other way?)!
Speaking of the hedonistic frontman, it appeared an effort was made to keep him in darkness in comparison to the other band members. The more cynical may suggest an attempt to mask his deteriorating physical health. Regardless, he still possesses undeniable stage presence and his snarling vocals were as powerful as they’ve been for years. For decades media have been quick to suggest he’s on his last legs. After the resilience he’s shown so far, it would surely be foolish to not expect repeat performances in 2014 and beyond?
For the last ten minutes, Brixton was the very centre of the universe. ‘Fairytale of New York’ played live is simply beautiful, particularly with 5,000 additional voices and 10,000 hands aloft. The adoring crowd were then given one last opportunity to lose themselves in ‘Fiesta’, before staggering drunk and weary into the Christmas air.
The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn
The Old Main Drag
Wild Cats of Kilkenny
I’m a Man You Don’t Meet Every Day
A Pair of Brown Eyes
Dirty Old Town
The Gentleman Soldier
And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda
Streams of Whiskey
The Body of an American
Thousands Are Sailing
Repeal of the Licensing Laws
A Rainy Night in Soho
The Irish Rover
Boys From the County Hell
Fairytale of New York