There were two kinds of Pogues fans last night at The Warfield: the fans that wound up at the center of the dance floor, and everyone else. Of course there was occasional cross-pollination between these two broad categories throughout the night. But in general, the fans at the center–which by song one had turned into a surging, sweaty, pit-loving, fist-pumping mob of mostly very large men–stayed there for the band's whole set.
These guys (and the occasional gal) knew what to expect from a Pogues show even before the lights dimmed. They knew before the five enormous security guards puffed up their chests to prepare themselves as band members took to the stage. They knew before lead vocalist, the lovingly self-destructive and toothless Shane MacGowan, stumbled and mumbled his way to the front mic clutching a red plastic cup in one hand, cigarette dangling from the other. They knew that when the accordion struck that first Irish chord, a lurching, debaucherous, brotherly kind of chaos would ensue. And anyone stuck on the floor who didn't know what was coming was either happily swept into the typhoon, or promptly spit out onto the sidelines.
Clothes flew, beer flew, people flew — and during the band's faster jigs, only the fittest survived standing. But The Pogues' music isn't the type one might generally associate with moshing. It's traditional Irish folk music, perhaps spiked with a small dose of The Clash. Plenty of crowd members preferred to watch the ruckus from high in the balcony areas, where they could enjoy the music without worrying about being pelted in the head with a cup of beer.