The Pogues Keep on Truckin’ - play NYC for St. Patrick's Day

The Pogues recently announced a 10-date, six-city tour dubbed “A Parting Glass With….”

The band, which last toured the U.S. in October of 2009, will return to these shores beginning March 3 in Chicago and running through March 17 in New York City for a St. Patrick’s Day show, or, as the band has rechristened it, “St. James Cagney Day.”

The itinerary includes two-night stands in Boston and Washington, D.C., culminating in a three-night residency in New York City at Terminal 5 from March 15-17.

The legendary rabble-rousers return with the full original line-up intact for nights of musical anarchy. Joining the Pogues on all U.S. dates will be Titus Andronicus.

Q Magazine recently called the Pogues “one of the 50 bands to see before you die,” and this might very well be your last chance. No one is saying for sure if this is the last tour that the lads will be doing, but I did get a tip from inside the band that this will likely be the last time they do a full-on tour of this kind. “Maybe the odd festival here and there,” was the comment Phil Chevron dropped to this reporter cryptically.

The Pogues are Shane MacGowan (vocals), Spider Stacy (tin whistle), Chevron (guitar), James Fearnley (accordion), Terry Woods (mandolin/cittern), Jem Finer (banjo), Darryl Hunt (bass) and Andrew Ranken (drums).

Let’s face it -- none of them are getting any younger. Come to think of it, none of us are getting any younger either, so see the lads now while you have the chance!
If you run into him, please don’t tell Chevron you’re seeing him on a St. Patrick’s Day tour.

“St. James Cagney Day is more Irish American,” he says, ever the blasphemous punk rocker.

“Enough with the bishop and the hat and the three leaf weed. I have decided it is St. James Cagney Day. St. Patrick was a non-descript evangelist that doesn’t merit this attention.

‘Besides, Ireland and America are more connected than they were in 432 AD when Patrick came to Ireland.”

I spoke with Chevron about the upcoming tour and the future of the band as they raise this parting glass. Here’s how it went:

So, does this tour’s “Parting Glass” label mean you are retiring?

It does and it doesn’t. A parting glass was performed for many years. It is A Parting Glass, not THE Parting Glass. We have been doing it longer than this lineup existed -- 1987-2003. We have been in this lineup since 2001.

It is a moment of pause to see what to do next. We might actually do the same.
It marks the end of a phase. There is a keenness to do some new things as well. We are artificially putting a stop to this phase of our career. It has been a nice surprise for us.

We just intended to do one off and here we are 10 years later. We never said when the farewell tour ends. We all agree that it is nice to keep it going at some level. It gives us a living and attracts people who thought they would only hear us through the dad’s record collection.

I’m curious how the band gets together nowadays to decide on a tour or next steps?
Well, it’s great now! We are in regular touch through email. Our management team fields offers and we are on an email chain to accept it on the spot.

It used to annoy us to make a decision that had to be communicated and discussed with all eight members back in the day. That probably caused so many fights. Technology like this has changed it.

In the eighties, we literally had a tour called the “Nobody Tells Me Anything Tour.” It’s simpler to communicate. Not easier to decide what to do, mind you, but it’s easier to be in touch.

I know Shane’s health and sobriety sometimes takes center stage in press coverage, but the reality is that the band’s musical chops are the real star of the show. The band sounds phenomenal!

Thanks! You just do the best job you can. You’d like to hope people spend more time about the music than looking at how much is in Shane’s glass onstage.

The band is tight because of how unpredictable he can be. Because he was so unreliable back in the eighties, it forced us to work harder.

Delivering each show by the seat of our pants was great training on the band, even though it wasn’t the best circumstances. You are dealing with forces not always in your control and you can choose to let it upset you or not.

All I can do is contribute the best that I can. Even now a gig is a challenge because we don’t always assume the crowd is on our side.

You still have something to prove. The audience will become uneasy if you haven’t found the groove.

That’s reassuring to hear. You aren’t resting on your laurels.

You’re never resting on past glories in this band ... we have to be up for the challenge.

What is your state of the Irish economy? It seems your song “Thousands Are Sailing” is timely once again.

On some level, I thought “Thousands Are Sailing” was past its time. We have gone from having Polish language papers in Ireland serving Polish immigrants there to now having 1,000 people a week leaving Ireland and going to the U.K., Australia and the U.S.

It’s a crime that these people leave a country that invested in them so greatly. We set out in 1987 to comment on what was going on at the time.

Any plans for new Pogues music?

We address it periodically. It’s easier said than done.

If we want to do it, we will move mountains to have it done. It takes more effort to get something like this done.

There is a hamster wheel called the music business that we got off in 1993. It certainly isn’t more attractive now.

Record companies are less concerned about developing artists. Even if you’re U2 after all these years you have to crawl back on the hamster wheel!

People will expect you to promote the record once you do it. It’s something we haven’t done for so long. It’s back to being our hobby.

We all have families and other projects. That occupies most of our time. The Pogues only exist at Christmas or March or at a summer festival now.

That said, the weather is drifting more toward making new music.

The Pogues play Terminal 5, 610 West 56th Street in New York, on March 15, 16 and 17. Visit www.terminal5nyc.com.

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