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The Pogues & Sparrow and the Workshop - Brixton Academy, London - 21/12/2010 | FESTIVALPHOTO

The Pogues & Sparrow and the Workshop - Brixton Academy, London - 21/12/2010


Tonights support band are the oddly named "Sparrow and the workshop". This three piece folk-rock band from Glasgow take to the stage in a half-full venue - many people are either struggling with the snow or are simply preparing for the Pogues by drinking in nearby pubs. While they do get plenty of applause, this bands sound seems more suited to smaller venues and in my opinion they struggle to create any real impact in such a large venue, which is as they admit the largest they've ever played.

By the time The Pogues eventually make it on stage the venue is full to bursting point with an enthusiastic crowd. The band come on stage with singer Shane McGowan staggering which suggests their late entry to the stage is the result of some pre-show drinking on his part. The crowd go wild as soon as the first song starts - "Streams of Whiskey", and for the entire show the standing crowd is a mass of dancing, cheering fans - I've never seen so many people dancing at a concert before. While the band mainly stay in a line halfway back on the stage, occasionally the accordionist charges forward, climbs onto some low speakers before leaping off.

The band play plenty of their hits that please the crowd, including "A pair of brown eyes", "Dirty old town" and "Thousands are sailing" before taking a break. The encore - "Sally MacLennane", "Rainy night in soho" and "The irish rover" end on a real high, but the crowd are clearly expecting more as the band leave the stage as they havent played "Fairytale of New York" - one of their best known songs that has become a Christmas classic. The fans arent disappointed as the band come back on stage for a second encore and kick off with "Fairytale of New York". During the song, fake snow is launched from the lighting rig which combines with the starlight backdrop to create a fantastic snowy starlit night effect. The show is finally closed with Fiesta, but as soon as Fairytale ended a steady trickle of people had already started to leave the venue to make their way home - a journey made much harder by the late start and late finish of the Pogues tonight, but I doubt if anyone who had a bad trip home regretted it. This was a fantastic night of music and its a shame that its been advertised as the farewell tour - indeed tonight was supposed to be their final UK date until a third night in Brixton was added. Whether it turns out to be their final UK tour remains to be seen, but its clear that many fans hope they reconsider and keep on touring.

The Pogues photos:
Sparrow and the workshop photos:

Pogues setlist:

Streams of whiskey
If I should fall from grace with god
The broad majestic shannon
Boat train
A pair of brown eyes
Tuesday morning
The Sunny side of the street
Repeal of the licensing laws
The band played waltzing matilda
The body of an american
London girl
Thousands are sailing
Dirty old town
Bottle of smoke
sickbed of cuchulain

Encore 1:
Sally MacLennane
Rainy night in soho
The irish rover

Encore 2:
Fairytale of New York


Writer: Anthony May
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