The Pogues is an Irish rock/folk influenced band. Their music combines traditional Irish music with the energy of 80/90s rock-punk, where electric guitars combine perfectly with traditional instruments such as the bodhràn, tin whistle, accordion or mandolin. Many classify this Irish band as one of the biggest in Ireland, along with the Chieftains or the Dubliners.
It all began in 1982 in London, when a small music group called “Pogue Mahone” was formed. This name is actually an English transcription of the Gaelic expression “Póg mo thóin“, which means “Kiss my Ass“. At that time, the group consisted of 6 musicians including :
Their career started in the streets and in the pubs, where they played traditional Irish songs as well as original songs composed by the band. From year to year, they start to gain notoriety, and they are offered to do some live performances on mediatized stages, where they open for the Clash in 1984.
As early as 1985, they decided to take the name “Pogues“, after having been refused in many radios due to the vulgarity of their first name. They then released their first album “Red Roses for Me”, which was a great success.
Meanwhile, Phil Chevron joins the band, and the Pogues record a new album: “Rum, Sodomy & the Lash”, under the tutelage of Elvis Costello. The title is actually a reference to a sentence Winston Churchill is said to have uttered about the living conditions of the British Navy). Bassist Cait O’Riordan announces shortly after her departure, following her marriage to Elvis Costello. Darryl Hunt then takes over, and Terry Woods, a multi-instrumentalist joins them in the wake.
It was only during this period that Shane MacGowan began to lead a rather dissolute existence. He juggled drugs and alcohol, put on a lot of weight, became known for his vulgarity and his afflictions with the police. All of this is very damaging to the image of the whole group.
On the music side, the Pogues participate in many projects, compose soundtracks for movies and record with the Chieftains the unavoidable song “The Wild Rover“. In 1988, they presented the album “If I Should Fall from Grace with God”, with a hit that would become a worldwide hit: “Fairytale of New York“, a Christmas carol that remained at the top of the charts in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
The success is boundless, but somewhat enamelled by Shane McGowan’s attitude, more and more violent and uncontrollable. Although he has been the leader of the band since its creation, MacGowan leaves the band in 1991, leaving behind him a less efficient band than when he was singing and composing lyrics. The Pogues continued without him until 1996, after the release of 2 albums that were duller than their previous ones. But the band quickly ran out of steam after the departure of its leader, and decided in 1996 to vote to split the band.
They only reunited exceptionally in 2001 and 2004, for a few concerts in Europe and the United States with the exceptional participation of Shane McGowan .