Irish Song of the Damned

Taking their name from a Gaelic expression meaning "kiss my ass," the Pogues grew out of a one-off gig singer Shane MacGowan and friends played as the New Republicans in 1981. When MacGowan and that dubiously named group of upstarts started tearing through Irish rebel songs at a London pub, the plug was pulled and a near-riot ensued. This experience showed the young singer that punk rock wasn't the only music capable of infuriating the establishment. Indeed, in Britain at the time, Northern Irish politicians were given actors' voiceovers on TV news; most of the public was ill-prepared for a group of vitriolic punkers who spat, swore, and bled Irishness. Soon the Pogues would galvanize around a mix of amped-up Irish traditional songs and the increasingly poetic originals from MacGowan's pen. Though the band's irreverent humor was obvious, their songs were deeply romantic and passionately delivered — a personal lens on the bleakness of working-class life in England. Though the group was criticized by the Irish old guard for degrading the music, the Pogues maintained they were working in the tradition, and if anything, made the raunchy elements only a little more explicit. Still, it took the Pogues to make a line like "I've been shat on and spat on and raped and abused" fodder for pub sing-alongs the world over. The Filthy Thieving Bastards open.
Mon., Oct. 22, 8 p.m., 2007

 
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