Shane MacGowan at McGonagles and the SFX: How The Irish Times reviewed two Pogues gigs in 1985

From the archive: Brian Kilmartin and Dave Fanning were at the Dublin venues in March and September for the band’s early Irish appearances

These reviews first appeared in The Irish Times on March 6th and September 12th, 1985

The Pogues

McGonagles, Dublin

The Dubliners on speed. Well, not quite but almost. The Pogues, looking as if they spent a few hard nights on Kilburn High Road, unleashed their manic punk/céilí music at McGonagles last Saturday night. The Pogues’ music has firm roots in traditional/folk/céilí, but they play it with so much perversion. Playing each song as if it is their last, they turn the music on its head so that it all speeds, except for the slow ballads, gathering momentum from its own momentum till everything is at fever pitch. They never miss a moment to push a song to its ultimate limit. The anger, chaos, drunkenness with which they play leads to some of the songs stumbling and falling over themselves almost as much as the group. That said, the honesty and ferociousness of The Pogues’ delivery was at times brilliant. Brian Kilmartin

The Pogues

SFX, Dublin

It seemed like the best time to see them. Late-night SFX, Pogues party, post-pub, packed place – perfect. Not quite. As darlings of the London music comics, ever careful to be the first on the scene to herald rock’s Next Big Thing, The Pogues (whose new album went straight into the top spot of this week’s British independent charts) are the current flavour of the month. No one denies that there are hundreds of groups from here to New York who can play Waxies’ Dargle; Whiskey, You’re the Devil; Dirty Old Town, etc, better than The Pogues ever could, but for me the one ingredient which distinguishes them from countless bearded balladeers – the highly charged punk velocity – was missing at the SFX. If The Pogues want more than the 15 minutes of fame allotted to so many bands, then their future success and progression will depend on the compositional talents of lead vocalist Shane MacGowan. Songs like the concert opener, The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn, and The Old Main Drag – both penned by MacGowan – are as well written as the many classics they brought back to a Dublin rock audience. Dave Fanning