17 December 2008

Christmas Eve (Babel)


...The Pogues at The Bristol Carling Academy last night... packed to the gills (can't remember the last time I saw something genuinely popular)and seething with brain-disconnected-from-head dancing...the crowd urging them on towards, inevitably, A Fairytale...

Shane MaGowan is to The Pogues as Mark E Smith is to The Fall; his band need to circle carefully around him, watching and listening for his every mood in order to rearrange the songs, making the world fit him rather than trying to make him fit the world. It's this that breaks The Pogues away from the look-at-me-dad-I'm tinwhistling! strand of homogenised folkrock murk, this that makes them transcend their cod everything approach; the shamble is the music, it doesn't interrupt it... The spirity of the Pogues can be found in the spaces between the time signatures, the tiny, tinny, effervescent but almost impercetible slurring of their music as it struggles to keep in tune with their singer...

The Pogues deal in Emotional Aggregates; you don't need to hear the words to understand what they're trying to say...

... or rather, it's a form of Urban Glossolalia; everyone hears what they need to with no nasty cultural signifiers to get in the way, despite on the surface this being London Irish through and through; a hyper-schematic, coagulated form of Irishness that perhaps never related to the grim truth...

Shane speaks in tongues and the crowd hear a kind of Fallen Angel, stumbling on the abyss, looking down and counting the number of angels on a drop of Martini Bianco.

His smile is as crooked as his rage.

His face is like Beckett's and not unrelated.

He moves like he's struggling with time.

He should have been in Preacher. He sort of was.

They play all the hits, bone-shards of snow falls during the Christmas number, they keep going. I'm not sure that they've ever been away but I'm glad they're back.

The Pogues - Fiesta

The Pogues - A Rainy Night in Soho

The Pogues - 16 Boys From County Hell

The Pogues - Thousands Are Sailing
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