Stars turn out for Shane MacGowan’s tribute gala concert

Bono, Johnny Depp among those feting Pogues singer, who turned 60 on Christmas Day

Shane MacGowan was honoured with a gala concert to celebrate his 60th birthday at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, he was also presented with the NCH's lifetime achievement award by President Michael D. Higgins. Video: Ronan McGreevy

 

Some of Ireland’s best known politicians, musicians and artists are attending a tribute gala to the former Pogues singer Shane MacGowan who turned 60 on Christmas Day.

Before the concert at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, MacGowan held court back stage accompanied by actor Johnny Depp, President Michael D Higgins and MacGowan’s partner Victoria Mary Clarke.

Demand for tickets for the one-off event was so great that it sold out within hours of tickets going on sale.

One long-standing fan stood forlornly outside the venue with a handmade placard looking for a ticket. He was not successful.

The concert was organised by MacGowan’s long-time friend Gerry O’Boyle a London-based publican and the NCH. 

Mr O'Boyle said the idea came to him after the funeral of former Pogues manager Frank Murray a year ago.

“It had been a tough period for Shane and something to celebrate was needed to lift his spirits,” Mr O’Boyle recalled.

Those in attendance on Monday night included U2 singer Bono, singer Sinead O’Connor, Minister for Arts Josepha Madigan, film director Neil Jordan, actors Stephen Rea and Cillian Murphy and musicians Finbar Furey and Paul Noonan from Bell X1.

Furey said it was a “great honour” for MacGowan to have so many people turn up to his celebration concert. “I’ve known Shane for a long time,” he said, “Shane grew up in the great punk era when you could give it a lash. We were the generation before. He’s his own man. He’s an incredible human being.”

Few things unite outgoing Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe politically, but both referenced A Rainy Night in Soho as among their favourite songs.

“As somebody who lived in London for many years, some of the songs that defined Shane MacGowan for me are A Pair of Brown Eyes and A Rainy Night in Soho,” Mr Donohoe said. “ On a rainy night in Dublin, we will remember the man who has given us A Rainy Night in Soho.”

Mr Adams said: “The words are just so wonderful. I think The Pogues also had brilliant musicianship. When you listen to their earlier stuff, the music is outstanding.”

He spoke for many when he said he was really “delighted he (Shane MacGowan) has lived so long to have this celebration”.

Among the musicians who played at the concert included Glen Hansard and Lisa O’Neill who sang Fairytale of New York, Nick Cave, Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream and Carl Barat, formerly of The Libertines.

However, what had intended to be a celebration of MacGowan’s life was overshadowed somewhat by the sudden death of another Irish musical icon Dolores O’Riordan.

Appropriately, given that Dolores O’Riordan was born and raised in Limerick, the song The Broad Majestic Shannon was dedicated to her. It was sang by the Welsh singer Cerys Matthews, the former lead singer of Catatonia.

MacGowan was due on stage at the end of the concert to receive a lifetime achievement award from President Higgins.