October 07, 2006

The Mystic Traveller Meets The Pogues Part 2

The Pogues do their stuff.
Photography by Lee Chapman


I am buzzing! This is not a drug-induced buzz. This is the buzz that comes from divine joy. The weather is again dreadful, and I find myself back at the Shibuya AX. The weather doesn't matter.

I go through the same routine at the guest entrance, and as promised, my name is on the list. How lovely of Louise and Spider to allow me such a wonderful opportunity! I feel extremely appreciative towards them.

When I return to the auditorium, I spot a few familiar faces among those many who are not. There's the guy with the long pony tail, glasses and camera. Oh, there's the guy with short white hair, and a wistful grin continually on his face. There's the nice, ever-so slightly overweight fan. An interesting group of people, with a love for a little bit of Poguish mayhem.

The energy is increasing as more and more people come into the concert hall. I'm trying to contact some people on my mobile, but the building seems to be possessed by forces determined to stop me. I give-up.

I am joined by two friends. One has been a fan of The Pogues for many years. He had seen the band without Shane MacGowan, so this is his first time to see them reunited with their erstwhile foil. He's pretty chuffed that I got him a backstage pass. He should be, as there are hundreds of people in that hall that would do anything for the opportunity.

The lights have now blacked out, and the audience is humming with excitement. It seems more tangible tonight. As the band comes on, there is a significant eruption of cheering. Shane wanders out, and seems much more sober than he had done the night before. He's now wearing an Irish football shirt, with what looks like a blim burn at the bottom of it. He looks fantastic.

Spider, dressed in a collarless shirt, is leaping about and slapping his whistle against his leg with great energy. He, like the other members, are obviously feeding off the exceptional energy that is radiating from tonight's audience, who are clapping, slapping, jiving, jigging, singing, hugging and screaming.

While Shane is singing, his mic has just cut-out. He's smiling and signalling the crew in the wings to do something. The audience is cheering enthusiastically, as Shane stares down at them and shrugs his shoulders. He is a jewel: A wonderfully rare man, who need not change a thing. He shines on that stage. Finally, the mic he is holding comes back on, and they restart the song.

I find myself getting rather emotional when they perform one of my favourite songs, 'Dirty Old Town'. Together, we sing the chorus, as Shane spits out the song with all that gravel, dirt, phlegm and pain that makes his voice so unique and special. It is a magnificent performance.

As the concert comes to a close, I feel sad that my adventure into rockdom is also coming to an end. It has been an extraordinary journey the past two days, with so many unexpected surprises.

We are ushered back to the same small dressing room as before. It's busier tonight. I bump into an old Australian friend, who I haven't seen for many years. We both ask each other how we got backstage. His is not official, and I am amazed at his moxie for succeeding to get pass the security without a pass. A Japanese man comes over to him and praises his shirt showcasing a Japanese band, called The Howling Wolves. My friend responds that he is a fan of the band. The Japanese man starts to laugh, and points out that the guy standing next to them is the drummer from that band!

James Fearnley, The Pogues' energetic accordion player, comes and sits down with us. He seems pleased to be chatting with my two friends, who are also from the North of England. He's a very down-to-earth guy, who has been living in LA for the past 16 years.

Spider and Louise come in briefly and say hi. Spider apologises that he has to hurry tonight, because he has a dinner party to attend with the other band members. I say to him that we must stay in contact. He agrees, and I think we will. I definitely will see them again in Japan at some point. I thank them for their kindness and tell him to give my brother a hug for me in LA.

As we are leaving, some fans who had snuck backstage are being forcefully thrown out. They seem drunk and none too pleased. We leave shortly after the dispute is sorted, and head out into the stormy night and back to reality.

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