Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Great Hunger: The Life & Songs Of Shane MacGowan (BBC 1997)

Back in my London days before leaving in 1984 (to Amsterdam first before finally coming here to Melbourne in '86) I knew Shane pretty well, having first met him when the Nips were still a going concern. I met him in a west end bar (you didn't see that coming did you?) recognising him from pictures that had appeared in the UK music inkies like the two above.
The Nips first gig took place in October 1977  but I don't think I saw them until May of '78 or so but I do distinctly remember Shane asking me if I had any ideas for a logo for the band as my first job was in an advertising agency that was situated right on the corner of Cromer Street and Gray's Inn Road in KingsX directly opposite The Pindar of Wakefield (now The Water Rat) a pub that had been the site of Dylan's first Uk appearance back in 1962 and would also host The Pogues debut in '82 as well as being the venue that hosted Oasis's first London show as well and also the nearest pub to where Shane lived at the time. The first gigs that I saw by The Nips were really shambolic to say the least but I really enjoyed their singles especially 'Gabrielle'. 

Their third and final single 'Happy Song' had the added cachet (at the time) of being produced by Paul Weller. 
And then I remember Shane telling me about this new band idea he had and did I know any musicians who would be into an Irish punky trad band type of thing and as it happened I did. Sandra and her squeezebox. (That tho is another story for another time.) Unfortunately the last time I 'saw' him was out here in Melbourne probably about 20 years ago and was a weird day. I was hoping to catch up with him before the gig but had a phone call from Phil Chevron saying that they were trying to er...revive him. Not a great sign but come gig time the show itself was pretty okay ending with Spider and Shane writhing on the floor belting out a version of 'White Light White Heat'. Anyway at the end of the gig having given the band twenty minutes or so to 'come down' I flashed my backstage pass and was greeted in the dressing room with no sign of Shane, Spider crying and the rest of the band in total shell shock as Shane had apparently been knocked out unconscious by Terry Woods. Spider between tears was just mumbling 'it's not supposed to be like this' over and over again. Fuck - this was a world apart from their early days playing around the traps at the Bull & Gate, the Irish Centre in Camden (at one of their gigs there I ended up helping mix the band as the guy with the PA had a broken arm and yes I resisted ALL temptation to dub it up LOL) or at Dingwalls. I actually worked behind the bar at that particular establishment and had been constantly hassling ***** ******* to book them, which he eventually did (probably just to shut me up!) Now on ******'s Facebook page he will tell you about what a great night it was etc etc but actually at the time he said it was the biggest load of shite he had ever had the misfortune to see. But hey what's a little bit of rewriting history between friends? Another couple of  memories were the coach trip one St Patrick's night up to Birmingham from London with the band and friends. Now I have been told that that was an 'interesting' excursion from a few other people trying to piece the adventure together. A 'busload of alcoholic amnesia' is the collective adjective isn't it? Another stand out gig was one time when the band were playing a private party down at a friend's place, Stanley Buildings in KingsX. This was only a stone's throw from the then Pogues HQ of the Pindar and I caught up with Shane there probably around oneish and we got locked in by John(?) This was a time in the UK when by law the pubs were shut between three and five and from memory I think the band were supposed to play at maybe six or seven. With about ten minutes to get to just down the road Shane and I set off and it was probably at this point that we sort of both came to the realisation that we seemed to have lost the knack of actually being able to walk. But somehow the two of us managed to get to the party where Shane played one of the best gigs I had ever seen him do. (Strangely I still have the flyer(s) for that particular gig, one of which was used as the cover on the 'Look Them In The Eye & Say Pogue Mahone' boxset.) As well as all The Nips 7"s I also still have my first pressing with the harp sticker (of which there were only 237 copies) of the  Pogue's debut single 'Dark Streets of London' on their own Pogue Mahone label that Stan Brennan put out before Stiff re-released it. What is missing, however,  is the sleeve on which Cáit had written her parent's Hounslow address and phone number.
Enough of this reminiscing - though I could go on about the times that Shane would threaten, while being basically unable to stand, to kneecap you 'in the name of the IRA' if you didn't give him a freebie pint when I was working at the 100 Club on the nights of the once a month (?) soul all nighter or the afternoon of the 'Death In The Afternoon' cocktails pre them playing at The Paradiso in Amsterdam or the far too many nights at The Devonshire Arms on my flying visits back to London and and...but finally I do have to say that yer man does look really well currently. It's amazing what a new set of teeth can do...though in the past I did see him a few times with his teeth fixed only for them to disintegrate again pretty bloody sharpish. 
(And here I really wish that I had the money to get mine done, hell I wish I had the money just to even get my totally fucked front teeth fixed...thinks to self maybe I should introduce ad sense to 'Exile'. 
Just kidding this blog shall forever be ad free but wouldn't my life be different if all these visitors had contributed ten cents each...oh well) 

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