Popes, Pogues and Shane

Source: Evening Press
Author: Roderick O’Connor
Contributor: Ingrid Knetsch
Copyright: Evening Press

One wag in the audience (and a little unfairly) put it this way: “It’s the first time Shane has been better than the band.”

However, there was an element of truth in it – Shane shamed those who doubted his ability to deliver and was in excellent form while his new band The Popes were the shaky ones.

Of course, allowances were made: this, their gig on Sunday last at the Fleadh Mor was their debut outing. But the Popes’ performance, which opened with ‘Sally MacLenanne’ from Pogues-days, and included ‘Dirty Old Town’ another Pogues hardy annual, raised the question: is that “patch” of groud from where both The Pogues, and Shane MacGowan and The Popes, trade big enough to accommodate both? We wonder still.

Dressed all in black suits and playing the catalogue of songs penned by Shane while in the Pogues, things grew a little confusing. Even Shane’s new songs ‘Where’s Me Whiskey’ (suppose the author means ‘Nancy Whiskey’) and ‘The Streets Of Baltimore’, would fit in very nicely on a past Pogues album.

Meanwhile, the Pogues are trying very hard to convince everyone that, even without Shane, they really are The Pogues. Indeed they are taking matters very seriously. Both their gig at London’s Finsbury Park and the Fleadh Mor in Tramore were delivered with a no-messing precision that showed they mean business. This month The Pogues release their first single in ages: it’s called ‘Tuesday Morning’, unveiled at Fleadh Mor. Also performed at Tramore as ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’, penned by Gem (he means Jem, I think) Finer. Both will feature on a new Pogues album due out on WEA next month.

Gem tells me that post Shane they may have had their doubts about carrying on, but they “kept the faith” and now the response from audience is good.

“The Pogues were always more than Shane”, says Gem. He feels the sound of the forthcoming album achieves “something we often talked about but didn’t sort out. The sound has space – you can hear the different instruments.”

The album is produced by Michael Brooke, who he informed me, invented the so-called “infinite guitar” as made famous by U2’s The Edge. So expect some interesting sounds!