Some tabloid vultures might have been expecting to write Shane MacGowan’s obituary long before The Pogues had three decades of carousing under their belts, but here he is in (relatively) fine voice rattling through the old favourites.
Age, in tandem with the temptations of the tap room, has had an impact on his croon, however, giving him a subtly deeper tone. On Sally MacLennane and The Body Of An American, he seems to be channelling one of his heroes, Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners. No new material in the last 15 of the band’s 30-year lifespan means more space for gems of yore, when MacGowan’s poetic and imagery-laden lyrics graced some of the most emotionally affecting songs of the late 20th century.
Spellbinding tales of love (Rainy Night In Soho, The Broad Majestic Shannon) and loss (A Pair Of Brown Eyes) are as tight as they ever were, the band on fiery form throughout.