It wasn’t St. Patrick’s Day but Thursday night sure felt like it – or something like a wild, drunken Irish party – as the legendary Pogues rolled into town to play at the House of Blues. This punk-Irish-rock unit hasn’t visited Texas in 20 years but here they were in all their glory and best of all, they were led by dissipated frontman Shane MacGowan, singing and smoking and drinking and slurring right where he belongs.
To see MacGowan in the flesh is to wonder how this man is alive at all. Obviously damaged by decades of boozing and whatever, MacGowan is a serious mess. But he is also the brilliant songwriter who created the great songs that the Pogues are famous for. And they rolled out one after another Thursday night: “The Broad Majestic Shannon,” “Sunny Side of the Street,” “A Pair of Brown Eyes,” “A Rainy Night in Soho” and so on. As I said, brilliant – and MacGowan, magically, sang with growing strength as the nearly two-hour set wore on. Was it the frenzy of the (obviously) alcohol-fueled crowd, or was it the glass of liquid he kept sipping (gin? vodka? water?) during the set?