I fucking love the Pogues! I have loved them since always and will love them forever and even if Shane MacGowan is a wreck who looks like he was hit by a truck, even if he looks twice as old as he should and has no teeth, even if he was drunk off his arse and frankly painful to watch between songs, even so…when he stood up in front of the mic with his cigarrette lit and sending blue clouds of smoke curling round him, the backlighting obscuring all faults and setting a golden halo through his unbrushed hair, his voice as gravelly and powerful as always and the band sounding fucking fantastic, well, I struggle to find words, there simply aren’t any.
Hommage done, on to the rest of the evening. It was at the Wiltern, this cool old Art Deco theatre on Wilshire…some advice if you go and are in the back floor section, make sure you are either right in front or in back and whatever you do, do not stand directly under the edge of the balcony because cups full of various alcoholic beverages came plumetting over from time to time…we were right in front and I had a perfect view – the high heels helped with that cause they make me almost 6 feet tall though I pity the folks behind me and my poor feet at the end of an evening…
I went with Bev, who is both totally punk rock and eminently practical, I suppose the only explanation of such mad inconsistency is that she’s Canadian, and the fact that both of her parents are from Newfoundland explains even more. She couldn’t quite get over how old all of them looked so didn’t enjoy it as much as I did…I was sad too but more cause I think it’s a damn shame that rock stars can’t age while in all other kinds of music age just means you’re that much better. Look at the blues, I don’t think you can even take a blues singer seriously if they’re under 30 or even 40, and all the greats are these old men and women roaring into the microphone with every year of hard living and heartache sounding in every fiber of their voice. Still, Mr. MacGowan was in eminent danger of strangling himself with the microphone cord, or possibly giving himself a black eye, as he swang it around his head during the instrumental bit of the Turkish Song of the Damned…and he was knocking the mic stand over and attempting to catch it rather in the way you would do if you were drunk and trying to prove you weren’t quite as drunk as everyone thought and yes, he did knock the whole thing over more than once and yes, he was drunk of his arse and yes, I did find it a bit sad. But as I said before, who could care because when he was singing it was magical…second encore was a rainy night in soho, and people tried to hold their lighters up but security went rushing about to put them out, that was amusing. Third encore was fairytale in New York, dunno who the chick was singing but all this white confetti came down as they danced at the end. The woman next to me was hilarious after it was over, imagine the broad California valley accent, and exact words were “Oh my God! That was fucking amazing! Oh my God, yes! yes! yes! That was fucking amazing, Oh my God! Yes! Yes! YES!” and so on and so on, she was clearly having a “when harry met sally” moment. Bit embarassing to listen to.
One of the best parts of the evening though, was Ollin opening! They are a fantastic but still not well known homegrown East Los band, and turns out they were playing a gig and the Pogues were there and actually invited them to open the last night in LA, what an incredible break for them! Last I’d seen them was a good while ago, and Bev last saw them in an Inglewood bowling alley…they were even better than I remembered though the crowd could have been more excited for them…it was not exactly the punk ska cumbia xicano crowd I suppose, but Ollin brought out all these tunes half Irish and half mexican and played in honour of the San Patricios…They came up on stage with the Pogues during the last song, I have never seen such frenetic happiness! They were even racing their fucking harp back and forth behind the band, and their honorary Boyle Heights Irish band member fell down on stage and threw his shoe up in the air and everyone was hitting themselves in the head with these silver trays and then throwing the bent remnants out into the crowd…insanity and a perfect ending to an incredible evening!